University Place residents looking for a way to connect with their city and learn more about where their food comes from are welcome to join the University Place Community Garden, located at Evergreen Primary School.
The garden allows citizens to grow their own food while simultaneously learning about the nature of what they eat.
“It’s important for people to understand how food is produced and where it comes from and what makes for healthy food and healthy production. One thing were trying to do is teach people about how food is grown. They’ve become alienated from that process buying their food from a store,” said University Place Community Garden Vice President Dan Enbysk. “Part of our mission is to educate people about how to produce their own food, how to produce it in a healthy way and help people regain a connection to that, and to learning the skills necessary to produce food for themselves.”
The garden also serves as a friendly meeting place for those in the community.
“Another thing that’s important is the community building and having a place where people can come together and share their knowledge, wisdom and experience with growing food,” Enbysk said.
Two 12 x 24 plots are dedicated to growing food for the local food bank, Families Unlimited Network. Last year, the garden grew more than 3,000 pounds of food for the organization.
“It’s one of the big benefits of having a community garden. Not only are we producing healthy food, but working to get it to people who need it the most. This year, the feed bank has been asking for a little more diversity in terms of produce we provide and we’re going to try and meet this need as much as possible with things like herbs and cilantro,” Enbysk said.
The University Place Community Garden has 63 plots, with 10-12 unoccupied at any given time. A 4 x 12 plot is $40 for a season, and a 12 x 12 plot is $75 for a season. These expenses cover water and basic maintenance for the site.
Seasons typically last from April to October, weather permitting, but plot renters are welcome to start planting anytime.
“Things start picking up around April, but people are welcome to start as early as they want over the winter,” Enbysk said.
The garden is also used as an educational tool for children across the district.
“The school district provided land for this, but we also worked with the elementary children at Evergreen, middle-schoolers and Curtis High School at the site last year. For the food bank site, students started all the corn starts for us. Pumpkin, corn and squash were grown at that patch and some of that produce went to the gardeners and the rest of it went to the food bank. A lot of that 3,000 pounds was corn and squash and pumpkins. We encourage people to register and fill up those plots. Come out and find out what we’re all about,” Enbysk said.