Community garden hoping for successful season; more than 130 families participate

Several volunteers spend Saturday morning working in the Sumner Community Garden land off Valley Avenue between Sumner and Puyallup.

The Sumner Community Garden, in just its second year, has proven plenty successful.

But there’s still room to grow, according to City Councilman Randy Hynek, one of the prime movers behind the city’s feel-good effort.

About 130 families are involved during the still-early growing season and plots are going fast, so anyone interested should stake their claim as soon as possible, Hynek said.

Parcels can be claimed as small as 72 square feet or as large as the 720 square foot “super plots.”

Land is available for anyone wishing to grow their own produce – for personal use only – at a 7.6-acre site along East Valley Road. Yearly costs range from $10 for the smallest lots to $50 for the largest.

When signing up, would-be farmers receive a $10 gift certificate from Sumner’s Windmill Gardens.

The city of Sumner started the Community Garden project last year, contributing money toward the effort, and has received help along the way.

The effort was boosted by a $14,000 grant from the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation and Pierce County Conservation District, and the folks at Sumner Tractor lent a hand as well.

Hynek emphasizes that the land is made available to all hoping to put some fresh, organic food on their table.

About half the families claiming parcels live in Bonney Lake and other involved gardeners hail from Federal Way, Graham, Buckley and South Prairie.

Those claiming parcels are asked to help with a 4-acre community garden that will produce corn, pumpkins and green beans. They will share the bounty come harvest time.

Water is provided for all involved in the garden effort and the city has compost piles waiting to be tilled into the soil. There’s a wheelbarrow available, but gardeners have to provide their own tools.

The effort helped feed needy citizens of the region last year, as more than 5,000 pounds of produce was directed to local food banks. This year, a group of Bonney Lake 4-H members are maintaining two plots, with plans for donating their harvest to their local food bank.

The Sumner Community Garden is headed by a steering committee consisting of Hynek, Denise McDermott, Bruce Hotvedt, Don Proctor, Steven Ulsberger, Ed Smith, Joan Turnbull, Kristann Montague, Patricia Villa and “chicken team” coordinators Tony and April Lopez.

Those interested in learning more can visit a “Garden Plot” link from the city’s Web site, www.ci.sumner.wa.us. There’s also an information line, 253-299-5798, and anyone wishing to secure a parcel can do so by stopping at City Hall, 1104 Maple St., between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Reach Kevin Hanson at khanson@courierherald.com or 360-802-8205.