Opinion: West Valley Food Garden yields much more than vegetables |

Who can forget the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Experts knew there was no cure for the mysterious new disease that was killing people left and right.It took months to develop a vaccine to protect against the deadly virus. .

Within weeks, a terrifying epidemic swept through the economy of the Yakima Valley, closing businesses, robbing jobs and forcing many people to endure things they never dreamed they would have to endure.

But food banks were already struggling, seeking enough supplies to maintain a steady stream of families who needed basic necessities on their table even before the pandemic.

Around that time, a group of local master gardeners from WSU Extension Services started talking. They wondered how they could help.

The answer was clear. They were able to use their skills to grow fresh produce to meet local needs.

Then, as the gardener explained in Carol Balaney’s recent Yakima Magazine article, it was just a matter of getting to work. They are used to getting their hands dirty.

Not long after, the group secured 5,000 square feet of former orchard land, courtesy of Master Gardener Karen Orange.

The West Valley Food Garden has taken hold.

About 20 volunteers will start work in the spring of 2021, clearing the land and preparing the soil. Earlier this year, master gardener Gini and her Obert husband Ron brought in equipment to create her 28 planting beds that are 20 feet long.

Then came steel stakes, cow panels and grates to support peas, cucumbers, tomatoes and tomatillos.

Grants and donations — $3,000 from Farm Credit Services and 20 yards of wood chips from local tree service Trickinnex — trickled in along the way.

Finally, in April of this year, rice planting began in earnest.

As the seasons progressed, the garden grew. Peppers, pumpkins, carrots, radishes. you name it

By the end of the harvest, the West Valley Food Garden had yielded over 3,000 pounds, all of which was delivered fresh to the Highlands Food Bank.

It’s been a great year, but the gardeners don’t stop there.

Next year they will meet with food bank representatives to decide which types of crops will best serve the bank’s customers. are planning to use their garden.

If the past year or two is any indication, West Valley Food Garden will be even more successful next season. And we are confident that it will continue to thrive for years to come thanks to these volunteers.

I hope so anyway. Because what they do is the essence of growing a community.

The editorials of the Yakima Herald Republic reflect the collective opinion of the newspaper’s local editorial board.

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