Growing your own: OlyCAP plots organic P-Patches

PORT HADLOCK — When Judy Hawks lived in Los Angeles, she grew a lot of her own food in an urban P-Patch.

But since moving to a condominium in Kala Point 10 years ago, she hasn’t had a chance to do that.

Carl Wayan-Levine, who lives in Chimacum, has the space for a garden but not the tools and materials needed to subdue nature.

“The ground is rough out there, and I can’t build a deer fence high enough,” he said.

“A cooperative situation would help.”

That’s why Wayan-Levine and Hawks have signed up for P-Patches in the new community garden behind Olympic Community Action Program’s thrift shop on Rhody Drive in Port Hadlock.

They joined other prospective gardeners and volunteers last week to clean up the property and mark off 25 plots in preparation for spring planting.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for a long time,” said Bonnie White of OlyCAP.

“The more we talked about it, the more people kept bubbling to the surface.

Even if they don’t want to have a garden here, they want to be part of the process.”

16 express interest

So far, White said, 16 people have expressed interest in having a plot in the garden, formerly an organic garden and store called Swan Farms.

It was operated by John Gunning, who owns the land and is donating it for use as a community garden.

Gunning also plowed the ground last week and has volunteered to help put in the irrigation system, White said.

For a $25 annual fee, plus $5 a month for water, each person will get a 10-by-10-foot plot.

‘Gypsy situation’

But that’s enough for Chris Martell and Peggy Daniels, who live in rental housing in Port Townsend.

“When you are in a gypsy situation, it’s nice to have something that is going to be here for a while,” Martell said.

“We need to have more of this.”

One plot will be set aside to grow food for area food banks, White said, with the gardeners chipping in time and labor to cultivate it and maintain the paths and other communal garden space.

Fee waivers are available for low-income families, White said.

OlyCAP is also providing shared tools and is planning to offer organic gardening classes for anyone who wants to come.

“A big part of the focus is to help people learn to grow their own food,” White said.

Learning how to grow organic food is one reason Carolyn Braun of Port Townsend volunteered to help organize the P-Patch.

A flower gardener, she had no room in her yard for a vegetable plot.

“I don’t know anything about organic gardening,” Braun said, “but if you get involved, you learn. It’s very rewarding to grow your own food — and you get really good food.”

Braun said she plans to grow rainbow chard, lettuce, carrots, peas and other easy-to-grow Northwest crops. Martell said he is planning to put in potatoes and onions.

“It’s going to be an interesting challenge seeing what you can grow in 10 square feet,” he said.

Grant money

White said the community garden is getting support from Al Cairns of the Jefferson County Solid Waste Department, which has received a grant to start vegetable gardens at schools in Brinnon and Quilcene and at Grant Street Elementary in Port Townsend.

“They are going to collaborate with us and help share expenses,” White said.

Donations of gardening tools, wheelbarrows and garden carts are appreciated, White said.

OlyCAP has also applied for grants to help pay for expenses like fencing.

“We also need to repair or replace the pump for the well,” White said.

“There’s county water, but we’re hoping to use well water.”

To get on the sign-up list for the OlyCAP community garden in Port Hadlock, phone Braun at 360-379-9969 or e-mail cj5braun@mac.com.

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Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at jjackson@olypen.com.

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