Summer crops fill the greenhouse at the Land Trust’s Matsuda Farm. This fall, the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club will share this space with the Land Trust to grow plants for their annual plant sale in May (Chris Woods Photo).

Summer crops fill the greenhouse at the Land Trust’s Matsuda Farm. This fall, the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club will share this space with the Land Trust to grow plants for their annual plant sale in May (Chris Woods Photo).

Island benefits when groups join forces

Environmentally sound garden and landscaping practices help native plants and wildlife.

In nature, organisms form symbiotic relationships. The most common of these is called mutualism — an ecological interaction in which both parties benefit. Vashon Island is home to many successful nonprofits currently forming mutualistic relationships to strengthen and benefit themselves and the community.

The Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust is partnering with the Vashon-Maury Island Garden Club to share their greenhouse at Matsuda Farm. Because the Garden Club doesn’t have the resources to purchase and maintain a greenhouse of their own, beginning this fall they will use the space in the Matsuda Farm greenhouse to propagate plants for their annual plant sale, and to conduct programs and workshops for members and the public.

Both the Land Trust and the Garden Club share a commitment to environmentally sound garden and landscaping practices and to the preservation of native plants and wildlife.

“The Vashon Garden Club is a perfect partner for the Land Trust. We share a commitment to the environment on Vashon that is proving to be mutually reinforcing,” said Erika Carleton, Vashon Land Trust director of development.

In addition to sharing greenhouse space, the Land Trust will support the garden club’s effort to certify Vashon as a Community Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation.

“The Land Trust’s focus on large scale projects combined with the garden club’s focus on private gardens means conservation and preservation are happening at all levels on Vashon.

That’s a win-win for Vashon’s native plants and wildlife, according to Carleton.

Vashon Center for the Arts and Vashon Nature Center have also formed a mutually symbiotic partnership just down the road from Matsuda Farm. The Nature Center has taken over stewardship responsibilities for a meadow and wetlands owned by VCA, just east of its building, and will establish a physical headquarters for its research and programs for the first time. VNC and VCA have signed a three-year lease for $1 per year.

The location is important to Vashon’s ecosystem because runoff from the meadow and wetlands feeds into Judd Creek. The nature center will develop a stewardship plant to help mitigate any environmental concerns at the property, clear it of invasive species, and ultimately restore it with native trees and plants.

“This partnership will create more opportunities for community engagement on our island and throughout the region,” says Jen Williams, VNC board president. “Accessibility to our programs is very important and as the nature center continues to evolve to serve more people here and from around the Salish Sea, it will be incredibly beneficial to have an easy-to-access home that is visible and centered in the community. We are grateful to VCA for this opportunity.”

VCA will benefit from the partnership once the meadow restoration is complete because it will receive a $30,000 refund from a bond paid to King County when the arts center was permitted.

Bianca Perla, VNC director, plans to house their many research projects there as well as use it for programs and classes that combine nature and art such as nature journaling and botanical illustration.

“Nature is at the heart of a lot of art and music created on our islands,” said Perla. “With this partnership, we’re asking what happens when you bring together our strong natural history culture and thriving arts and music culture — this seems like a powerful thing and I think there’s going to be fireworks.”

Nature Calendar

Sunday, Aug. 4

Seed Saving Workshop

Island seed expert Jen Williams will conduct a free workshop at Matsuda Farm to examine current crops, experiment with different varieties of tomatoes, corn, beets and other crops, and demonstrate “wet seeded” seed saving from tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and melons.

Noon to 3 p.m.

Matsuda Farm, 19201 Vashon Hwy SW

Tuesday, Aug. 6

Volunteer with the Land Trust

Help install boardwalks and turnpikes on the Lower Shinglemill Creek Trail between Cedarhurst Road and Fern Cove. Email:

9 a.m. to noon

Saturday, Aug. 10

Vashon Audubon Field Trip

Come birding on the island. Drop in, free and no experience necessary. Bring binoculars and scopes if you have them and wear walking shoes or boots. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Carpools encouraged and can be arranged at Ober Park.

8 to 10 a.m. Meet at Ober Park Park & Ride.

Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16 and 17

VNC Stream Bug Surveys

Visit local creeks and take samples of stream bugs with Vashon Nature Center scientists to generate an index of stream health. Must be able to walk up to 1 mile on uneven terrain. Email: for more info and to sign up.

9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 17

Matsuda Farm Open House

Come see, smell and taste farmland conservation and island history for yourself.

Tours on the hour at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.

19201 Vashon Hwy SW

Thursday, Aug. 29

Land Trust Book Group

“Trace: Memory, History, Race, and The American Landscape” by Lauret Savoy.

6:30 p.m. at The Land Trust Building

Sept. 23 to Nov. 18

Vashon Forest Stewardship Coached Planning 2019

A forestry class for property owners offered by WSU Extension. Nine sessions and field trip taught

by experts. Save money by registering before Sept. 5. For more info: see

6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Mondays

Vashon Land Trust Building, 10014 SW Bank Road

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