Love that compost! That is what students from the Learn and Serve Environmental Anthropology Field (LEAF) School from Edmonds Community College learn every quarter during their service learning visit to the Good Cheer Food Bank and Garden, and their service project at the Whidbey Institute Westgarden.
It all starts with organic matter providing the fertility and tilth to the soil. Students turned over compost in the bins, harvested some for use in the garden, and sprayed biodynamic compost preps to enliven the compost and help it break down more quickly and effectively.
The potatoes had some strange summer blight, so we cut them back and harvested them. To restore the soil, compost was added and we planted buckwheat as a summer cover crop and late forage for the honey bees.
Over by the apple tree, we had been loosely following an apple tree guild based on permaculture principles, but the comfrey was getting out of hand for the small space. So we pulled the comfrey and added it to the compost. When transformed, this compost will enrich our garden soil in the spring. In place of the invasive comfrey, we will be planting other herbs and flowers to attract pollinators.
Last but not least, our favorite chickens! LEAF students constructed the chicken run a year ago, and have been expanding it in subsequent visits. The chickens have made a nice run around the garden, but weeds do come in along the edges.
We pulled back the chicken wire and really cleaned up the run! With the additional chickens that Alexa raised, we are really in good shape now! Not only do we love their eggs, we love their manure for the compost. It’s all part of the cycle of fertility that grows the garden.
A big thank you to students Lia Andrews, Ana Barrera, Zander Danskin, Kyle Dewey, Daryl Douglas, Christopher Ellison, Mark Glinskiy, Joshua Hart, Jan Hutchinson, Cheryl Kennedy, Minda Mina, Sierra Rudnick, Christopher Shipway, Yosief Tesfamariam, Daniel Villarreal, Nick Weaver, Hao Wu, Program Assistant Erin Ryan and Professor Tom Murphy!