Bumblebee Haven Garden is situated on Okanogan School District property in rural, North Central Washington. Started a few years ago by a now retired teacher, local native peoples, and local Conservation District, students K-12 have the access to learn about vermiculture (growing soil from compost from worms), tending to land, and most importantly, growing food next to native plants on native land.
The land was once a meeting place for the peoples of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, which encompasses several different tribes. Since starting the garden, teachers, students, and community members create soil to create windrows of tomatoes, potatoes, different types of squash, and others, along with native plants for pollinators. Each Tuesday during summer and harvest season, people of all ages meet to harvest and work in the windrows. Some get to take a bit of food home, but mostly, all harvested food is donated to the local Okanogan Food Bank.
Through this partnership with the local food bank, about 1,200 pounds of fresh food was offered to our rural community last year. Sometimes, over 90 pounds of food is harvested and donated in one day. This is a chance for people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to fresh food, to have access. Each fall, children can come with their parents and choose a pumpkin, big or small, for their taking. Many of these students, have been to the garden with their teachers and classmates.
The community has really taken a stronghold to keeping and growing this garden. Local farmers and other landowners drop off manure, leaves, and other compostable materials that are later turned into soil. It is proof that if something is nurtured, it can be a gift that can keep on giving, even in an indirect monetary form. Have you given back to your community recently?
Chelsea Trout is the High School Biology Teacher for the Okanogan School District. She is a board member for E3 Washington and serves on their Communications Committee.