Public Works Superintendent Kelly Riepma uses a backhoe to drop dirt into a trench as public works employees Jimmy Wadlington and Scott Wofford cover a new water line going out to the community garden. Photo by Megan Hansen/Whidbey News-Times.

Town hoping to grow renewed interest in community garden

Coupeville’s Community Garden is getting a little TLC with the hope of sprouting renewed public interest.

Public works employees from the Town of Coupeville installed a water line last week to the garden, located behind the Four Square church near State Highway 20 and Broadway Street.

The new water line will connect to three faucets inside the garden, replacing the water source at the garden, which consisted of a tank with hand pump.

“I think people who have experienced the garden before will appreciate that,” said Mayor Molly Hughes.

The town also had the soil at the garden tested by Skagit Valley Farmers and Public Works Superintendent Kelly Riepma said it was suggested they add compost into the mix.

Other than that, they said the soil was great, Riepma said.

Public works crews will be tilling and adding the compost in the next couple of weeks as the weather allows.

The town’s improvements into the garden are in response to user feedback and decline in previous years. The garden wasn’t open last year.

“We had already put all these resources into it,” Hughes said. “We wanted to recommit to the community garden.

“We have a lot of room available and we’d love to have them all filled up with the community growing healthy food.”

The garden is ideal for residents who live in apartments, or one of the mobile home parks where they don’t have space to have a garden.

“We have several of those in town,” Hughes said.

There are 60, 10-foot by 12-foot plots available to rent.

The cost is $30 for the season, which normally runs mid-April through the end of October. The garden has a shed filled with tools and watering cans available for gardeners to use.

Because the work needed to be done at the garden is weather dependent, the opening date is fluid. Riepma said Wednesday it should be open by the end of April.

“As soon as she says it’s ready to go, we’ll be emailing gardeners,” Hughes said.

Anyone interested in renting a plot at the garden can print off an application on the town’s website, www.townofcoupeville.org. All of the rules and guidelines are included.

Hughes said there are also opportunities for the garden to help the community.

It would be a good opportunity to promote the “Grow a Row” campaign, which encourages people to grow a row of food in their backyard gardens for their local food banks, she said.

Each year the Gifts From the Heart food bank in Coupeville offers sponsorship opportunities with the garden.

“If people want to grow for the food bank, there are people who will donate the $30 fee for plot,” Hughes said. And the food bank will pay the plot fee for its clients to grow their own food.

Also, Hughes suggested if local farmers had extra seeds or starters they wanted to donate, they could drop them off anytime at the garden shed.

Master Gardeners are a community resource that first-time gardeners can utilize, Hughes said. She hopes to partner with Master Gardeners for some educational programs in the future.

Master Gardeners will be available to gardeners every Saturday at the Coupeville Farmers Market and there is a hotline to call with that gardening question.

The phone number is 360-240-5527.

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