QUILCENE — Jefferson County Master Gardeners are doing more than growing plants. They are cultivating community projects.
Some examples are an irrigation system for the grounds of a small museum, deer fencing for a rural community garden, a worm bin for elementary school students to compost leftover lunch food, two bees hives for an urban neighborhood garden.
Throw in seed money and signage for two native plant gardens, hoop houses for an experimental winter crop project and stewardship field trips for students, and the tab comes to almost $5,000.
That’s how much the Jefferson County Master Gardeners Foundation awarded last week in the first disbursement of its new community grant program.
Designed to promote horticultural and environmental stewardship, the grants went to schools, community gardens, small farms and community organizations.
“We raised this money in Jefferson County and are giving it back to the county,” said Kathi Boyker, head of the Master Gardeners’ growth committee.
“It couldn’t get any better.”
The Master Gardeners’ growth committee sent out notices in July announcing the new grant program.
Of the 14 applications received, eight received funding, ranging from $160 to $1,000 for a total of $4,906, Boyker said.
All went to projects that had a volunteer component.
Money for materials
“One of the things we looked closely at was who was going to do the labor,” Boyker said.
“We loved the ones that were going to be done with volunteer labor and just needed seed money for the materials.”
That’s why the Quilcene Historical Museum received a grant to buy an irrigation system for its newly landscaped grounds.
The focus of the project, started last spring to complement the museum’s new addition, is a picnic area surrounded by raised beds of plants and foliage.
Designed by volunteer Lori Millard, the project was accomplished entirely by volunteers, who also will install the irrigation system, with guidance from Carol Promel.
“We’re very excited about it,” said Carol Christiansen, a member of the landscaping committee, of the new system.
“Hand watering is very time consuming.”
Another grant winner was submitted by Dorothy Stengel on behalf of her first and second grade class at Grant Street Elementary School in Port Townsend.
Noticing how much food went into garbage can at lunch time, the students applied for a grant to buy a worm bin and a food scale.
The worm bin will be a science project, Boyker said, with the students measuring how much food goes into the bin and how much compost is produced to fertilize the school garden.
If successful, the class is planning to propose composting all school food waste, Boyker said.
Funding school projects gives the Master Gardeners more bang for their buck, she said.
“It’s through education that people will become better stewards of the environment,” Boyker said.
Kit Pennell, a Chimacum Elementary School science, received a grant to take students to Sunfield Farm to study agricultural systems, and also to Port Townsend Marine Science Center to study the water side of the environmental equation.
Sunfield Farm in Port Hadlock received a grant to plant a native plant entry garden that will be used for educational purposes.
Another grant will provide signage on state Highway 19 for the Kul Kah Han native plant demonstration garden at H. J. Carroll Park.
The Ocean Grove community’s newly established garden near Cape George received funds for a deer fence, and the Oak Street Garden in Port Townsend is buying two bee hives.
Adam Blake of Corona Farm received funding to help pay for two hoop houses, where he will grow three experimental winter crops — celtuce, a Chinese stem lettuce; saltwort, described as “land seaweed” and a green called Chinese Toon.
The first crop is due to be harvested in January, when Blake plans to market his crops to the Food Coop and local restaurants, Boyker said.
The Jefferson County Master Gardeners plan to give approximately $7,000 a year in grants and scholarships, allocating the net proceeds of fundraising projects to the outreach effort.
Recipients are asked to report on their projects to the board of directors, and some projects may be used for advanced training for the members.
“It’s a win-win situation,” Boyker said.
Port Townsend/Jefferson County reporter-columnist Jennifer Jackson can be reached at email@example.com.