Gordon’s Garden Center Donates Seeds and Starts to Yelm Community Garden 

For the first time in recent memory, vegetables are growing in Yelm City Park. Every day, new shoots are emerging at the community garden, a collaborative project among nonprofits Bounty for Families, Thurston Conservation District and GRuB along with the City of Yelm, the Nisqually Tribe and Career and Technical Education students at Yelm High School. Now a new partner has joined the mix. Since March, landmark local business Gordon’s Garden Center has been donating seeds and starts to literally bring the project to life.

“If someone is in the garden and they love a specific plant, they may want to know how to grow it at home,” says Nora White, Education and Outreach Specialist for Thurston Conservation District. “The fact that these plants come from a local retailer means that not only can they get some instruction on how to grow it, they can walk two blocks and go buy the same plant at Gordon’s. This in-kind donation signals to the rest of the community and to the other partners that Gordon’s is invested, interested and supportive of the project.”

Gordon’s owner Kellie Petersen says the community garden is in alignment with the mission and values of her business. “We try to help people understand that growing their own food is more economical, more nutritious and certainly more flavorful than buying from a grocery store,” she explains. “Our aim is to help with the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of growing, according to the family’s needs and desires. In a community garden, people can see the ease with which they, too can grow a garden.”

Over the past two months, multiple work parties have put the seeds and starts in the ground. As of this writing, peas, spinach, beets, carrots, arugula, celery, lettuce, kale, and swiss chard are visible with potatoes soon to follow. As the weather warms up, volunteers will add tomatoes, zucchini, squash and peppers.

Petersen hopes the community garden will inspire people to grow their own food at home. “There are so many benefits,” she points out. “Many people buy more than they need at the grocery store and throw away what is not used before it perishes. With a garden, because they will only pick what they cook that day, there is no waste.”

To learn more about what seeds and starts are available, visit the Gordon’s Garden Center website or call 360.458.2481.

 

Bounty for Families is Hiring

Power of Produce (PoP) and Community Garden Program Manager
Job Description

Results Statement: This position will support both the Yelm Community Garden and the Power of Produce (PoP) programs. As garden manager, this position will coordinate efforts to maintain and grow the community garden program in collaboration with community groups, other nonprofits and the City of Yelm. As Power of Produce Kids Club Program manager, this position will oversee the PoP program during the Yelm Farmers Market season and help it to grow.

Programs:

Power of Produce Kids Club is a free program that introduces children ages 5-12 to fruit, vegetables, and plants that grow food. Once they sign up, they receive $2 in market tokens at every market they attend which can be spent on any of those items. The PoP Manager arranges weekly activities and events focused on gardening, sustainability or nutrition for PoP members through collaborations with other nonprofits and community groups.

Yelm Community Garden is located at Yelm City Park. The garden is used for demonstration purposes to conduct classes on gardening throughout the year and in conjunction with the PoP program. It is a collaborative effort coordinated by Bounty for Families and including the City of Yelm, Thurston Conservation District, GRuB,  Yelm Community Schools and the Nisqually Tribe.

Reports to: Farmers Market Manager and Bounty for Families Board of Directors

Time frame: Every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. during the Farmers Market season, from May 29 – October 30. Responsibilities will begin before the Farmers Market season starts and may extend for a week or two after it concludes.

Work Listing: 

Communication and Outreach

PoP

  • Communicating with families and children to explain the PoP program
  • Recruiting nonprofit and community organizations to do kids’ activities at market
  • Collaborating with farmers market manager to coordinate special events, nonprofits who attend market, PoP related vendor products
  • Provide engaging activities for kids each week in tandem with the Community Gardens project

Community Garden

  • Coordinate efforts with community groups, other nonprofits, the City of Yelm and Yelm Community Schools to hold work parties and ensure that the garden is maintained and tended
  • Coordinate activities and classes at the Yelm Community Garden as part of the PoP program and in collaboration with other community groups and nonprofits
  • Facilitate monthly strategic meetings with community partners
  • Maintain a clean, welcoming, and active garden space during the growing season. This includes weeding, planting, harvesting, and winterizing beds.
  • Adhere to organic gardening standards.

Both PoP and Community Garden:

  • Create weekly social media posts to keep the public informed about upcoming events and activities at the Farmers Market and Community Garden
  • Respond to social media questions or comments related to the PoP program and Community Garden

Volunteer Management 

PoP

If the Program Manager is unavailable on a given market day, he/she will be responsible for finding a volunteer to run the PoP booth as well as training and managing any other volunteers who assist at the PoP booth on market days.

Community Garden

The manager is responsible for:

  • Recruiting and training volunteers
  • Communicating with volunteers with sufficient time before any work parties to ensure a good turnout
  • Acknowledging volunteers after work parties, on social media when possible and/or via email or text

Logistics

The PM will run the PoP booth on market days, answer any questions parents or children may have, and help them understand how the program works. They will also issue tokens and track program participation.

The PM will work with community partners to schedule and facilitate work parties, design planting schedules, and ensure regular upkeep, maintenance, and harvesting of produce through the growing season

This position will also be responsible for helping to develop, with community partners, methods of distributing extra produce to community members.

Record Keeping 

  • maintain a database of all participating PoP members, including those from years past and keep track of spending.
  • Maintain the PoP activity calendar.
  • Maintain a database of Community Garden volunteers and potential volunteers, including nonprofit organizations and community groups.
  • Maintain planting records and harvest records from the garden.

Fundraising

The PM will assist in finding sponsors for the PoP and Community Garden programs.

Standards:

  • Clear, professional communication
  • Timely reporting to the board
  • Focus on solutions
  • Be on time
  • Interest and excitement for community gardens, gardening, and community-based work

Desired Skills/Experience:

  • Strong knowledge of/ experience with gardening
  • Previous leadership experience with children ages 5-12
  • Experience managing volunteers or employees
  • Familiarity with the Yelm, WA community

Compensation

  • The Community Garden/ PoP Manager will be compensated at a rate of $15.00 per hour for 16 hours per week ($250 per week) during the market season. This includes 8 hours for market day and 8 hours for coordination and other garden-related activities.

Please contact Heidi Smith at 360.464.8706 or send a resume to heidi@sunheartwriting.com 

Community Garden and PoP Manager Job Description 2021

Yelm Community Garden Expands with Help from Yelm High School FFA Club

Yelm High School students had barely returned to in-person learning when one set of students was back out of class again, but this time the reason had nothing to do with the pandemic. On March 26th, two groups of FFA club members enrolled in a landscape construction course came to Yelm City Park to dig up sod and plant native species as part of the Yelm Community Garden project. Nora White and Kiana Sinner of Thurston Conservation District facilitated the work party, which accomplished a great deal in a few short hours.

Agriculture teacher and FFA Advisor Matt Mounts sees multiple benefits to involving students in the building stages. “Not only does it give the kids a hands-on opportunity to apply what we’re learning in class, but it also gives them a sense of community that, ‘Hey, I helped out,’” he says. “When they drive by the park with their friends or parents, they can say, ‘I was part of that.’ Taking ownership of a community project like this is huge.”

Construction began in January, with volunteers from The Mission Continues, a group of veterans who do service projects in their communities. The project involves multiple organizations including Bounty for Families, a Yelm-based nonprofit, the City of Yelm, Thurston Conservation District, GRuB, the Nisqually Tribe and Yelm High School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. A separate group of CTE students enrolled in a Home Shop course will be designing and building park benches fo garden growing later in the season.”

Many who helped were seniors who have been FFA members since they were freshmen. They appreciate the hands-on nature of the club and that it gets them out of the classroom and involved in real-world applications. Senior Peyton Doud has learned skills he plans to use after high school. “I like learning how to calculate the square feet I need for sod or soil and projects like what we’re doing today,” he says. “When I work with my dad, I can help him out with what I know.”

Jaxson Baines, also a senior, finds that the club provides a high degree of autonomy. “It gives you the ability to think for yourself without having to rely on having someone else do things for you,” he says. “In the last few years, I realized that you can learn a lot more through hands-on than just technical experience or computers.”

All eleven students expressed appreciation for the community garden project and the possibilities it offers for Yelm residents. “It’s amazing that we get to do this,” says sophomore Abagail Ikari. “I was low-income at one point in my life and having the opportunity to help out and see this grow from the ground up is exciting.” The community garden will be a gathering point for classes on gardening and cooking with produce. One goal is to connect residents who may be struggling financially with resources to grow their own food and help their families to eat healthily.

Aidan Rosenburg joined FFA as a freshman because he both likes getting his hands dirty and has an interest in learning how nature works and how to best support it. He believes the garden can be a community resource. “It’s important to help younger kids learn about plants and where their food comes from,” he says.  Thurston Conservation District Executive Director Sarah Moorehead agrees. “We see a huge need to support future generations in growing food not only for themselves, but whole communities,” she notes. “We’re excited to help the next generation of land stewards succeed.” The project will also serve as a teaching tool for kids in the Yelm Farmers Market Power of Produce Club, which introduces them to gardening and nutrition.

Perhaps Senior Benjamin Dagum sums it up best. His passion is for science and the environment, as well as improving his gardening abilities. “There’s a benefit in having people out here helping each other,” he says. “It really shows what the people in this community can do together.”

 

Volunteers Needed to Build Yelm Community Garden

Bounty for Families is seeking 6-8 volunteers to complete the construction of the Yelm Community Garden at Yelm City Park. We’re very excited about this project, which will serve as a gathering place for children in the Yelm Farmers Market Power of Produce Kids Club, a hub for adult classes on gardening and cooking with produce and a year-round addition to events like Jazz in the Park, Prairie Days and the Nisqually Barbecue Rally. Half of the garden beds are already built. This 2-day work party is for the purpose of building the other half.

When: Friday, February 19th and Saturday, February 20th from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m

Where: Yelm City Park. Meet at the front entrance to Yelm Community Center

What to Bring: Gloves, rain gear, mask and water. Lunch will be supplied

What We’ll be Doing: Assembling garden beds, moving soil, constructing trellises

Contact: Please r.s.v.p. to Heidi Smith at 360.464.8706 if you would like to help. Thank you!

Gift of Gobble Feeds 150 Families in 2020

Another year, another successful Gift of Gobble event. On Monday, November 23rd Bounty for Families volunteers gathered to package and distribute 150 Thanksgiving meals to families from Yelm Community Schools, JBLM, Rainier Community Schools, and nine local churches.

Thanks to many local businesses who supported us in breaking all fundraising records this year, including: First Finishers, the Crowe Law Office, Blue Waters Acupuncture Center, Re/MAX, Windermere, the Klein Family Foundation,  Yelm Family Medicine, JZK Inc., The Showroom, C&E Developments, 507 Taproom & Filling Station, Pizzeria La Gitana, which donated pizzas to our hard-working crew and the Yelm Food Co-op which handles all the logistics on food ordering.

Many individuals also donated to make this the biggest year yet. We appreciate you!

Donate to Gift of Gobble to Feed Families this Thanksgiving

It’s been quite a year and demand for annual Gift of Gobble Thanksgiving meals is higher than ever.  Therefore, this year we are adding 50 more meals than usual and need to raise a total of $9,000.  If you’re able to contribute and would like to make a difference, $60 feeds a family of six with a Thanksgiving turkey, potatoes, carrots, stuffing, pumpkin pie mix and all the trimmings to take home and prepare their own feasts.

As always, meals go to military families at JBLM, Rainier Community Schools, nine local churches and this year, 20 will go to families from Yelm Community Schools. Thank you for your support!

Click on the link below to donate now.

Gift of Gobble Donation

3,860 Food Boxes Later, BFF Wraps Up Organic Produce Program

On September 16th, Bounty for Families wrapped up its weekly distribution of locally-sourced organic produce in Yelm and Rainier through the Farmers to Families Food Boxes program. Over a ten-week period, BFF volunteers handed out 3,680 boxes to families, individuals, and groups like senior centers, rehabilitation facilities, domestic violence shelters and several churches.

“We started with just 160 boxes per week, but demand kept increasing,” says BFF Board Secretary Heidi Smith. “Every time we asked Hugh for more produce, he made it happen.” Hugh Jones is the founder and President of Evergreen United Food Hub, a Shelton-based organization that gathered the produce from local organic farmers, packaged it, and then delivered it to nonprofits like Bounty for Families throughout the Puget Sound region so it could be distributed to help those struggling with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

In normal years, Evergreen United serves Seattle and Tacoma area restaurants but in 2020, those markets were no longer viable. Jones, with help from the Thurston Economic Development Council’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) won a contract with the U.S.  Department of Agriculture Farmers to Families Food Boxes program, which enabled him to pay farmers and connect with local nonprofits.

When the opportunity arose, BFF had just five days to put a plan together because another nonprofit had canceled their order. Smith contacted Sandi Hanson, coordinator of the Rotary Club of Yelm’s 10 Weeks of Summer program which was already distributing free boxes and bags of food each week for families of students who are enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program through Yelm Community Schools. “The fact that Yelm Rotary said yes made this possible,” says Smith. “To organize the logistics for this program without their support would have been really challenging at such short notice.

The next step was recruiting volunteers, a process Smith found to be surprisingly simple. “People were eager to help,” she says. “The feedback I got was that this was a welcome interruption to being stuck at home for so long with little outside interaction. We had a real range in ages, including teenagers and several children who came along with their parents.”

Following the Rotary Club of Yelm’s model, volunteers distributed at four locations: the Clearwood Community Association’s main gate, Nisqually Pines administrative office, Rainier School District’s administrative office, and Yelm City Park.  As word spread, more people continued to show up looking for fresh greens. “We had people tell us about the smoothies they were making with the beets and how much their grandchildren were enjoying the produce,” says Smith. “It was great to hear the stories of what people were doing with it each week.”

The program is finished for this year but the connections it created will continue, according to Smith. “We’ve had all kinds of community groups and individuals contact us about working together,” she says. “There’s a lot of focus on collaboration and making sure everyone is taken care of, and those conversations will go on.”

 

Food Boxes for Families Program Continues Through End of August

Bounty for Families will continue distributing boxes of fresh, locally-sourced organic produce every Tuesday as part of the U.S.D.A.’s Farmers to Families Food Boxes program. We’re working with the Rotary Club of Yelm in conjunction with their 10 Weeks of Summer Program and will be four distribution points every Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. until noon: historic school at Rainier (on Center St.), Clearwood main gate, Nisqually Pines administrative offices and Yelm City Park. Big thanks to Hugh Jones of Evergreen United Food Hub for driving all the delicious food out to us from Shelton every week and to our awesome volunteers for making it happen. Spread the word!

Food Boxes for Families Program Continues this Tuesday

For the third week in a row, Bounty for Families will be distributing boxes of free, organic, locally sourced produce at four locations throughout the Yelm area on Tuesday, July 28th from 10:00 a.m to 12:00 p.m. The Yelm Rotary Club has generously allowed us to join them at their 10 Weeks of Summer program sites: Clearwood main gate, Nisqually Pines main office parking lot, Yelm City Park and the historic school building (next to the high school) in Rainier.

Please note: the Rotary Club’s program is specifically for families with children who qualify for free and reduced lunch at local schools. The Food Boxes for Families produce is available for anyone who needs it on a first come/first serve basis, including adults without children and senior citizens. We are happy to hand out produce and also want to make sure that the Rotary boxes get to the children they’re meant to help, so please bear that distinction in mind when you come to see us.

Thanks to the volunteers who are making this work and to Hugh Jones of the Evergreen United Food Hub for making the drive with his truck of delicious greens every week.