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Upgraded produce stand springs up at North Whidbey Help House

Joel Boucher places a box of veggies onto the metal shelving inside the newly built produce stand.  - Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times
Joel Boucher places a box of veggies onto the metal shelving inside the newly built produce stand.
— image credit: Jenny Manning/Whidbey News-Times

The old North Whidbey Help House produce stand is no longer. In its place is a brand-new, three-sided stand complete with a roof, a cement floor and metal shelving.

Safety was the reason behind this long-awaited upgrade, said Help House Executive Director Jean Wieman.

“The original produce stand was just an open, framed structure with a roof and was then modified by enclosing three sides,” she said. “The dirt floor was hard to keep clean and had tree roots coming through it.”

The produce stand is next to the Help House building on SE Hathaway Street near downtown Oak Harbor. Board President Becky King echoed Wieman’s excitement at the grand opening ceremony Monday as did Dulce Vermette, who occasionally volunteers with Help House as a Spanish language translator.

Over the last two years Help House employees propositioned volunteers to construct a new produce shelter, but there were no takers for the project.

This year, there was a little room in the operating budget and the staff and board determined something needed to be done.

Two estimates later, Terry and Pam Fogle with Hire-A-Hand had the job.

Fogle was determined to get “deals” on as much of the materials as possible to keep the cost down, Wieman said.

“He was very successful in this endeavor,” she said.

Generous equipment donations, material discounts and volunteer labor kept the cost under $8,000, Fogle said.

The project couldn’t have been done without the donations, discounts and labor provided by Jeff Lambert of Diamond Rentals and Painter’s Alley, Bruce Seltveit for his backhoe service, Concrete Nor’West contractor P.J. Lang, Travis Koster of Cascade Lumber, Mike Anshutz and K.C. Fogle of Landed Gentry Development Inc., James Croft of The Home Depot, and Frontier Industries.

The new produce stand will provide better protection for donated items, according to Help House employee Tim Noe, who often picks up bakery items from Safeway; meat, produce dairy and bread items from Albertsons; produce from the commissary’ pastries from Starbucks; and frozen pizzas and bread sticks from Pizza Hut.

Spills and fallen items will be easier to clean up on the cement floor than the former gravel floor, and clients won’t have to worry about tripping over roots, he said.

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