The Winlock Community Garden was a group effort birthed by Ed Montgomery, a former teacher at Winlock High School. It has been a labor of love for teachers, students and community volunteers.
Montgomery started the program per Lisa Collins because he had a student who did not have any food available to him. Collins stated about Montgomery, "He is the one who took off with the program, he got grants, local businesses helped out, seeds were given, even chicken manure was donated by Mary with Draper Farms. It's been a great effort, Mr. Montgomery has really started something great."
Montgomery stated, "It was brought to my attention that some students had little food at home, and this inspired the creation of a place where students could have access to fresh food year-round as well as a place to learn gardening skills."
The garden became official in May 2019 and has flourished. Dr. Alicia Spalding with Nature Nurture Farmacies says she expects the garden to grow with the years. She took charge of the garden after Montgomery and has big plans for it. Every Tuesday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Spalding, her mother, and people in the community go to the garden to maintain the plants, check the equipment, and harvest the food.
While the garden is beautiful and provides location, its other purpose is to teach students about planting and caring for gardens and plants, as well as "cultivating relationships with others" according to Montgomery.
Spalding says, "The idea of this garden is to teach people a bunch of different methods [of gardening]." Students planted and nurtured their plants, and some even ate their work later. One member, Maia Chaney, joined out of curiosity. She thought Winlock had a lack of gardening experiences and was very happy to find how much dedication was put into this garden. She was impressed with the adults that put it together and thought it "a really fun experience and a new opportunity." She hopes for more ideas like it, with people taking initiative and taking chances.
On the day of planting, students gathered to plant everything they could bring. Car trunks packed with plants were planted, planned by Spalding, Montgomery, Collins, and the students. The planting took about five hours with all of them working and was extremely gratifying.
According to Spalding, this was an experimental year for this garden, and so far "everything has grown in this garden." This is a huge encouragement for the garden to branch out into a more settled, beautiful garden. Spalding even plans for an orchard sometime in the future. In the plans for expansion, there is also hope for gardeners in the community to teach students about their profession.
This garden is a great opportunity in all aspects. It provides fresh food for those who need it, teaches students to grow their own food and medicine, and provides an experience not many people get. The garden is a very worthy cause, and we hope it will continue to grow each year.