By Madie Murray, Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria Chair
As many know, our school garden is in the process of expanding to approximately 8,000 square feet and to date all the posts, fencing, wood chips and a lot of hard work has been thoughtfully donated to make it happen.
As a community devoted to its school and its children, this overwhelming outpouring of support is enviable to everyone who learns about the Orcas Island Farm to Cafeteria Program and the school garden.
Again, because of our community’s generosity, two very exciting new items will be added to our expanded school garden within the next few months: a weather station and a rainwater catchment system.
Thanks to grants from the Orcas Master Gardeners, the Orcas Island Garden Club and the Fidelis Women’s Circle, a weather station and related lesson plans will be implemented so all grades may acquire some real hands-on experiences and studies about the weather.
Building a rainwater catchment system is a little more complicated and time consuming, but a 4,999 gallon catchment tank (with the capability of adding more tanks in the future) will be installed shortly that will augment the garden watering system and costs. Money to purchase the tank has been graciously donated by a new Orcas Island resident, Dave Abrams who is also assisting with design ideas for the garden and the water delivery system.
Additional financial assistance for the catchment system is being made possible with the help of Danna Kinsey, former graduate of our great public school and currently the Natural Resources Planner for the San Juan Islands Conservation District. According to Danna, it appears our project could be reimbursed up to 50% of the total cost under the state’s funding for water conservation projects.
Also, Past President and current Education Coordinator of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association, Tim Pope who lives in Friday Harbor, is helping us with the design, procurement of equipment and installation.
The tank installation will occur prior to the rainy season so it can begin catching water this year, and the rest of the system should be installed in time to use that water for spring and summer crops in the garden.
These installations will bring our students study opportunities in a myriad of disciplines from grade school to graduation. We humbly thank each and every one of those wonderful people who have helped to make this happen.