Happy Spring everyone!


Now that the trees are budding and the Equinox has passed its time to begin the work party season! Spinach and Kale are in the ground, the greenhouse is full and we need help waking the garden up and prepping for the season.

Come on down this Thursday, March 26th from 9am to noon to help us weed, fix the terraces, and tackle some wild corners of the garden! Come for as long as you like and join us for a simple lunch at noon.

For any questions please feel free to e-mail Abigail Lazarowski, the Garden Steward at abigail@whidbeyinstitute.org.

Hope to see some of you this Thursday!

There may still be a chill in the air and feel like the dead of winter, but over in the garden the season has begun! It’s the time to make seed orders, construct planting schedules and turn in the cover crop. We’re calling on all garden volunteers to join us in the garden next Monday, January 26th to help us get some of this work done! 

From 9am until noon we’ll be turning cover crop, mulching beds and tackling some weedy corners of the garden. Then at noon we’ll take a rest and enjoy some hot soup and bread together! As always, come for as long as you like.

Hope to see some of you there!
2014 Apprentices

2014 Apprentices

The Learning from the Land program of the Whidbey Institute, the Good Cheer Food Bank, and the School Farm and Garden program of the South Whidbey School District are partnering to offer this training in community gardening and leadership skills. Interns will be selected for a particular garden, and will also assist other interns in their gardens so as to gain a broad range of skills and learning experiences.

The Community Gardening Leadership Training is seeking motivated individuals who wish to gain skills for future leadership positions in the field of sustainable community gardening. The training will combine hands­on, practical growing skills in small­scale food production with the leadership skills needed to initiate and manage community gardening projects, to coordinate volunteers, and to implement education and outreach programs.

In this program, community gardening primarily refers to food bank gardens, school gardens and other non­profit gardens that rely on volunteers, community outreach and community support to grow food.

Program begins in March and continues through October. Shorter terms may be possible, but preference is given to those who can commit to the full season. As of now we can offer apprentices a $300/month and depending on fundraising this amount may increase. Stay tuned!

Applications will be accepted now through January 15th, 2015.

For more information e-mail us at: cultivatingcommunitywhidbey@gmail.com and visit our website: http://cultivatingcommunitywhidbey.wordpress.com/



Program MAP


Gardeners sowing cover crop

Fall Greetings to you all!

Today is the first day of October and somehow the air already feels different. The dampness of Autumn has descended upon these woods; the air is cool and the sun hangs lower in the sky each day. As the season changes, so does the garden, and we’re finding ourselves putting everything to rest. We’ve been pulling up our tomatoes and beans, and making space for crimson clover and rye to take root so that they might keep our garden protected all winter long. It’s a bittersweet time for gardeners as we say goodbye to the bountiful summer, but it’s also a very special and gratifying time as well.

So, in honor of this beautiful season we are going to celebrate! Please join us for our FINAL WORK PARTY of the season on October 9th, 9am-4pm. Come sow cover crop, harvest winter squash and share in the beauty of the Westgarden.  Hope to see you all there!

We’d also like to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped make this season so wonderful! We could not have done it without you!


We’re blessed with a bounty of medicinal herbs in the Westgarden, and in addition to enjoying their fragrance and blooming presence in the garden, we love to preserve some of the harvest by turning them into herbal medicine.

Apprentices Sonya and Abigail drying rose petals

Rose petals


Rose, Lavender, Feverfew, Calendula, Sage, Mullein, and Motherwort

There are many ways to transform herbal flowers, leaves and roots into medicine. One of most simplest ways is to make tea with fresh or dried herbs. Above are a few of the Community Gardening and Leadership Apprentices drying rose petals for tea.


Calendula and St. John’s wort oils

 Another herbal process we engage in, in the Westgarden is making Oil Infusions. Our herb oils are usually later turned into salves, so we tend to use herbs that are meant to be used topically, such as Calendula or St. Johns’ Wort. St. John’s Wort is a particularly fun one to use because although the flower is yellow, the oil is deep red!

To make an infusion simply harvest the herbs on a sunny day so that there is little moisture on the plant, fill a jar with the herbs, cover with olive oil, close the jar with a piece of cloth as shown above so that moisture can evaporate, and place in a sunny window. Allow the herbs to infuse for two weeks, strain out the used plant material and use!


Herbal Infusions in the windowsill of the greenhouse

This summer, Maggie also made an astringent herbal concoction called “Queen of Hungary’s Water”  from many of the herbs found in the Westgarden. To make the herbal facial toner you simply infuse Apple Cider Vinegar with a collection of flowers and herbs for 2-6 weeks. Once complete, you strain out the herbs and you’re left with a toning and cleansing herbal infusion. Some of the herbs you can use are Calendula, Comfrey, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Rosemary or Sage.

Making the "Queen of Hungary's Water"

Making the “Queen of Hungary’s Water”

Calendula, Rose, Chamomile, Sage, Rosemary, Comfrey, and Lemon Balm

Calendula, Rose, Chamomile, Sage, Rosemary, Comfrey, and Lemon Balm

Another favorite herb project of ours is Herb Salt! It is very simple to make and is an incredibly delicious addition to any soup, stir fry, or salad dressing. We use it on just about everything! All you have to do is harvest an assortment of fresh herbs and combine them with salt in a food processor at a ratio of 1 to 1. Once the mixture is ground down to a thick paste, lay it out onto a baking tray and cook in the oven on the lowest temperature possible for a few hours until it is completely dehydrated. Store in a jar and enjoy!

Some herbs that we used this season were: Rosemary, Sage, Basil, Lovage, Dill, Garlic Scapes, Chives, Thyme, Lemon Verbena, and Parsley. You can use these or any others you have growing in your garden!

Apprentices prepping herbs

Apprentices prepping herbs

unnamed-2  DSCN0153

Most people are familiar with oat as a cover crop or as a cereal grain, however, here in the Westgarden we grow it for medicine! Milky Oat is among our favorite herbs to grow because of its subtle beauty and strong medicinal value.  Milky Oat is a Nervine, meaning it is incredibly nutritive and restorative to the body’s nervous system. It is known to help subdue anxiety, calm nerves and help those who are feeling exhausted and stressed. It is a particularly gentle and safe herb as well.

We sowed our oats from seed in the spring and watched them grown throughout the season. Once the oat tops have emerged it’s important to check them often because they must be harvested when they’re in their ‘milky’ stage. In order to tell if the plant is ready, gently squeeze the tops to see if a sweet, milky substance emerges from the flowers.


Milky Oats











If the milk appears, then the oats are ready to harvest! Run your hand along the flowering tops to remove them from the stalk as shown below.  We tincture some of our oat tops fresh with alcohol, and dry some to have in tea throughout the winter!


Harvesting Oat Tops


Volunteers harvesting Milky Oats together

When Institute staff located non-native, clumping bamboo in the wetlands at Chinook, we were faced with controlling its growth to prevent ecosystem imbalance. A sustainable solution arose when we decided to harvest the poles for use! The garden is now full of bamboo as a construction material: it’s been used for staking hoops for row covers, supporting tomatoes, and trellising beans.One of our most enjoyable staff work parties on the land involved bamboo, as we erected A-frame supports in the pole bean bed out of stakes and twine.Through harvesting this useful plant, we’ve made do with the resources at hand, saving time and resources, and we’ve reduced the potential negative impact on native species in the wetland. As a bonus, we’ve created some fun garden memories as a team!


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