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by: ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Soon there will be gardens and murals on either side of the Estacada Junior High School main entrance. The new garden will de dedicated to producing food for the Estacada Area Food Bank.Coming soon to the Estacada Junior High School: a garden dedicated to growing fresh food for the Estacada Area Food Bank.

Stephen Shibley, chair of the SEED (Stewarding an Edible Estacada District), explained that the school has been overwhelmed by students wanting to volunteer for the food bank.

There was more interest than volunteer spots available, Shibley said.

SEED members thought the creation of a school garden to grow produce for the food bank would be an excellent way to create more student volunteer opportunities.

Thanks to a $2,000 grant from the Whole Kids Foundation and funds from the food bank and SEED itself, the garden is planned for the spot on the other side of the school entrance from the existing Junior High school garden.

The mural is also to be continued behind the new garden.

Two work parties are planned from 1- 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 21, and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 22.

The goal is to assemble a number of student and community volunteers to plot the garden with fabric and chips, spread soil amendments and get the spot ready for planting the following month.

Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Shibley at 503-789-5010.

Shibley said the group is talking with the food bank about what sort of food they would like grown there.

“We just need to think about what we can produce in abundance,” Shibley said. “Stuff that’s really easy and plentiful.”

Potatoes, green beans, carrots and salad greens are likely candidates.

Ideally, Shibley said, they will find plants that can be harvested before the students head off to summer break.

During the school year, SEED is planning to periodically hold Friday afternoon work parties after school in the garden geared toward students of all ages.

Kids will get to help weeding, planting and harvesting but it’s not all about manual labor.

“Part of the idea always is to engage the students not just in physical labor but in an outdoor classroom,” Shibley said.

Students will learn about the biology of how plants, how to deal with pests, how to plan a garden and more.

“They’re definitely going to learn a lot about what it takes to have a productive and thriving garden,” Shibley said. “(And)... the satisfaction knowing at the end of the season the students and community... helped produce hundreds of pounds to help feed local families.”

High School students interested in participating in the Friday afternoon work parties should contact Mary Ann Bugni at 503-630-8515 ext. 2896. Students of other ages should contact their administrators for more information.

SEED is also seeking more board members, adults and teen-age students. If interested, call Shibley.

For more information about SEED visit seedestacada.org.

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