Great news in the PDN about Quilcene School Garden Program!!

QUILCENE — The Quilcene School garden program received a substantial financial boost last week with the awarding of a $10,000 grant for building structures and paying for materials.

“This is a good program because it gets kids to realize where their food comes from and gets them out digging in the dirt expending energy,” said Heather Sanders, who teaches first and second grades.

“They get to see a life cycle, how compost breaks down and feeds the soil again.”

The grant, awarded Thursday during the weekly class, is from the Jefferson County Community Foundation’s Giving Circles program, in which 10 people commit to contributing $1,000 per year for three years, with yearly grants awarded in support of a single program.

Carla Caldwell, the foundation’s executive director, said Giving Circles allows groups of people to pool their funds so they can make a greater impact than each could make alone.

Caldwell said the foundation received eight grant requests and chose the Quilcene program because it best fit its goal of supporting local food programs that have a potential long-term benefit.

Garden coordinator Zach Mayne, who works with the students every Thursday, said he’d like to use the money to build a classroom and a small kitchen where students can prepare the food they harvest.

As Mayne spoke about his plans, he was interrupted by a young girl asking plaintively, “Can I please have just one piece of kale?”

“They live on it. They gnaw on that stuff,” Mayne said.

“You can teach art in the garden,” he added.

“You can teach math in the garden by showing them how to count seeds.

“It creates a template . . . to get across the basic concepts.”

Added teacher Gary Perless: “This is an incredibly effective way to get kids connected to the land and to appreciate good food.”

During the check presentation, two members of the circle, Julie Gertler and Kris Morris, were on hand.

“We just saw the kids out here having a good time. They had no idea they were doing something important,” Gertler said.

“This is filling an immediate need but also has some long-term benefits,” Morris said.

“The kids are here from grades K through 12.

“They can plant a tree in grade school and watch it grow all through high school,” Morris said.

Greg Brotherton, a member of the Quilcene School Board, said part of the reason his family moved out to the country “was to get a little closer to the earth.

“It’s great to see the kids get their hands dirty.”

For more information about the Jefferson County Community Foundation, go to or call 360-385-1729.


Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or

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