Michelle Raymond Foodbank Coordinator
Many community gardens, especially the very active ones, host a foodbank garden. A foodbank garden is a collective effort of caring individuals, cultivating soil, planting seeds, maintaining growth and harvesting produce.
The MCGA Foodbank Garden is run this year by master gardener and former association President Michelle Raymond. Each year we raise almost 6500lbs of fresh organic produce for Hopelink. We have a team of drivers who make deliveries of the produce collected from the foodbank garden and produce from gardeners who sign up for the “Grow-A-Row” program. This is a program where gardeners donate a small section of their rented plot to Hopelink for the season. In return they get a wheelbarrow of fresh compost and some seeds. According to Jack McKinnon, almost 60% of our net donations come from gardeners in this program!
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Here is some of the history of our very own foodbank by another former garden President, Jack McKinnon, who has been gardening Marymoor for over 20 years and working in the foodbank garden since 2002:
Jack McKinnon out-standing in his field.
“Back in the nineties, Walt Hanson, an old timer in the garden would take his extra produce to the local food bank. I thought that was a great idea. Laura Niemi (the King County garden co-ordinator) started a food bank plot in (a-1) in the summer of 2001. I became interested in what she was doing and helped her off and on. This small food bank garden was in jeopardy when King County decided to close the garden at the end of the 2001 season. In 2002 we formed MCGA and began making plans for an expanded foodbank garden.
In the summer of 2002 I requested of King County if we could have two plots rent free to farm for the food bank only. They said yes. The two plots were g-1 and g-13. I worked those two plots for two years with a little help from the gardeners. Michelle became interested in helping me and we requested of King County if we could have six plots rent free, because it was becoming a fond interest in King County.
We moved the food bank plots in 2004 to h-2,3,&4 and h-16,17,&18. As the MCGA garden Friends of Marymoor Park representative, (FOMP) I asked FOMP if they could support the food bank garden with funds to buy seeds and plants. They helped out the first couple years.
In 2006 the food bank garden was becoming a great interest in King County. I started to record the donations to Hopelink by weight in 2004. With our success, our food bank efforts became a hot item for King County and FOMP, so Michelle and I requested if we could have two more plots rent free. King County said yes and that is all you get rent free.”
[Editors note: We now have 8 foodbank plots, measuring 1600 square feet, also including our new tomato wall that runs north and south along the pet memorial area, and a new unused patch of grass up in the southwest portion of the garden that we are currently creating a potato plot (2013). We also utilize the occasional vacant plot and if early enough in the season, create small foodbank plot if we can.] ~Sam Skenandore