Come join us for our new ALL DAY Thursday work parties at the Whidbey Institute Westgarden!

Now that the season is picking up we’re going to extend our Thursday garden work parties from 9am-4pm! Feel free to come at any point and stay for as long as you like!

As always you’ll have the opportunity to learn about small scale gardening, spend time in a beautiful and peaceful garden, meet some great people and help grow food for your community! We’ll be also be serving a simple lunch at noon for everyone and if you feel inspired to bring a dish to share, please do!

The work party runs from 9am to 4pm EVERY Thursday all season long!

For more information contact Abigail Lazarowski (Garden Apprentice)



Volunteers enjoying lunch together.


Cary weeding out an herb bed!


Come join the fun in the garden!


A few weeks ago we were fortunate enough to have an group of students from the University of Washington join us in the Westgarden. They were incredibly helpful and such a joy to work with!

The group of 10 students were part of the UW Urban Farm class doing a farm tour of Whidbey Island. Some of their classmates also helped out Cary Peterson at the South Whidbey Academy farm field and others joined Camille Green at the Good Cheer Food Bank garden.

We had the students help us weed out and build up some of the Westgardens’ oldest medicinal herb beds. The students were able to learn about some of the medicinal herbs we have growing in the garden including Yarrow, Apothecary’s Rose, Feverfew, Echinacea and Comfrey as well as hone their weeding and bed building skills.





Thank you all for your help!


Earlier this spring we were lucky enough to have the third grade students from the Whidbey Island Waldorf School join us in the Westgarden with their teacher Kat Carlson. We started off the day digging up the cow horns that the students buried in the garden last fall as a biodynamic preparation. Within Biodynamics, the tradition of burying manure filled cow horns in the earth is thought to bring fertility to ayour garden. The students discovered that the horns were not yet ready to leave the ground to be turned into a special fertilizer so we put them back in the earth. We planted California Poppies, Bachelor Buttons and Calendula Flowers over top of them and we will check the horns again in the summer.

-7  waldorf students

The students also learned how to prepare a bed for planting and we collectively removed the bed mulch, weeded it out and transplanted our spinach and lettuce starts. We’ll see how well they grow this spring!

A big thank you to Kat Carlson and her students for their help in the garden!


Hello all! Happy Spring!

Please come join us in the Westgarden at the Whidbey Institute for our regular Thursday work party!

Start off with a delicious garden fresh lunch in the greenhouse at noon and then help us in the garden for the afternoon. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about small scale gardening, spend time in a beautiful and peaceful garden, meet some great people and help grow food for your community!

Work party runs from noon to 4pm EVERY Thursday.
If you can’t come in the afternoon but would still like to join us, know we’re often here working in the mornings as well.

For more information contact Abigail Lazarowski (2014 Garden Apprentice) at abigail.laz@gmail.com

Hope to see you there!

abigail welcome photo_3913A big welcome to Abigail Lazarowski, the 2014 Community Gardening Leadership Training apprentice in the Westgarden!

I have been working the soil ever since I was little when I used to help my Dad in our family’s vegetable garden. We planted seeds together, harvested basil and waited all summer for the Vermont sun to ripen our tomatoes. I’ve been a cultivator of the soil and a lover of good food ever since. Throughout college I spent a lot of my time working with youth and leading community arts projects but within the past few years I’ve felt drawn back to the land and have begun working on small organic vegetable farms in the Northeast. This season I was looking to deepen my experience with sustainable agriculture and learn more about how the growing and sharing of food can really serve a community.  This exploration drew me all the way out here to Pacific Northwest and I feel so grateful to have landed in such a beautiful place.”

~~~ Abigail

bee in poppy2_9307   butterfly sage1_8593

Beneficial bugs abound in our gardens and you can create a diverse garden ecosystem to encourage them! You can attract not just pollinating insects, but also the insects that will eat pests. The soil, too, is alive with billions of organisms that help to create a fertile soil.

On Saturday, April 5th, from 10 am – 12 noon learn about the

  • amazing web of life in our soil and how to nurture it
  • pollinators that are essential for our gardens, and our community
  • predators and parasitoids that keep our garden ecosystem from becoming unbalanced
  • flowers and herbs we can plant to attract beneficial insects, and when to plant them
  • garden practices to help our garden ecosystem become diverse and thrive

This Growing Groceries class is taught by Cary Peterson, and is held at the Whidbey Island Community Education Center at Bayview Corner. More details HERE.

ImageOn February 7, instructors Tom Murphy and Erin Ryan returned to Chinook with a hardworking crew of students from Edmonds Community College’s Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field (LEAF) School.

The team spent the morning touring the Good Cheer Food Bank and Garden with Cary Peterson, learning about food justice, sustainable growing, and the compost cycle. They then came to the Whidbey Institute to work with Maggie Mahle to learn about the fertility cycle and soil building. The planned activity—flipping beds—was deferred due to frozen ground, so they discussed pine blister rust at the site of the felled white pines and then engaged in a service project by clearing small and large wood debris from the open forest area near the heart of Chinook. This material will be composted for use in the Hügelkultur tradition, which employs rotted wood to create nurselog-like conditions in the garden bed. They also moved gravel in to the greenhouse floor via bucket brigade, then closed with reflections in the Sanctuary.We offer our thanks to the students and instructors for their effort, assistance, and learning! We are grateful for our ongoing partnership with LEAF.

A big thank you to John Baumgardner, Justin Brooks, Kahte Culevski, Muriel DeKlerk, Daryl Douglas, Stephanie Frank, Erin Haley, Kymberly Hoyle, Sylvia Lin, Hubert Ly, Alec Meade, Chelsea Rabourn, Mac Repman, Sierra Rudnick, Hannah Siebart, Al Tidmore III, Erin Gamble, Christopher Shipway, Laurie Ross, Erin Ryan and Professor Tom Murphy!

Photos by Cary Peterson.



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