Volunteers tend to the Vashon Maury Community Food Bank garden. The organization later this month will offer two workshops for children ages 5-9 at the garden. (Courtesy Photo)

Food bank offering kid-focused garden workshops this month

Island children ages 5 through 9 can learn all about growing and harvesting food at the Vashon food bank’s two free gardening workshops this month.

The food bank’s own garden coordinator is partnering with Vashon Master Gardeners and other “garden gurus” to teach young children about both nature and human nature, Vashon Maury Community Food Bank Executive Director Robbie Rohr said. The program will utilize the food bank’s garden at Sunrise Ridge.

Rohr said the program has two goals: to help children understand how food grows and to show the importance of helping others.

“The real intent of this is to help children understand the cycle of where fresh, healthy food comes from,” she said. “We’ll have a component on planting and then a component on harvesting. In the fall we’re going to have a third session about putting the garden to bed.”

The food bank’s garden coordinator, Emma Cassidy, said she has been working on the organization’s small garden for months and was approached by Rohr with the idea to involve children with the food bank. Cassidy started some seedlings, placed them in trays and is now ready to hand them over.

“They’re vegetables for fall: greens like chard, kale and lettuce,” she said.

The children will take two seedlings home and tend to the plants there. One seedling will produce food for them to keep while the harvest from the other is encouraged to be donated.

“It’s the beginning of our Grow a Row for the Food Bank program,” Cassidy said. “We want to encourage people to grow a row in their gardens to donate.”

Those interested can pick up seedlings to “foster” from Cassidy or add an extra row of a fruit or vegetable of their choice into home gardens.

Children participating in the free workshops will also get a chance to harvest food from the garden, including food from the “salsa garden”: tomatillos, cilantro, green onions and tomatoes.

“We put all of that in a bag with a recipe and give it to the food bank,” Cassidy explained.

The food bank will offer two kids’ gardening workshops from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays, Aug. 15 and Aug. 22. The workshops are free, and kids can attend either one or both.

Workshops will take place at the food bank garden at Sunrise Ridge.

For more information or to RSVP, email director@vashonfoodbank.org.