Edmonds garden helps grow a community, step by step

EDMONDS — Andrew Hokenson is cultivating an idea in Edmonds.

He thought about creating a community garden at Salem Lutheran Church, and volunteers broke ground on the site late last month.

Now, they’re asking the community to plant seeds with them.

“It’s about growing as a community, strengthening bonds, just becoming tighter knit,” said Hokenson, a military equipment repair technician. “As your community strengthens, you’re also growing together.”

Pastor Thomas Gumm has long envisioned having a community garden. He wanted to find a purpose for the church’s unused lawns.

Hokenson, 38, volunteered to put his background to use by developing the plan. He gained experience in project management while serving in the Peace Corps in Thailand.

He also holds a master’s degree in public administration.

Months ago, he and several members of the congregation started brainstorming.

They enlisted the help of the Floretum Garden Club and the city.

“We just started pitching in together and began working step-by-step,” said Hokenson, of Lynnwood. “It really was a church effort.”

The concept started taking shape and donated supplies came in.

The plan for the garden has 30 raised beds for people to rent seasonally. Hokenson estimates it will cost $55 for the first year.

It is designed to include communal gardens, where the church hopes to grow produce to donate to local food banks.

“This way we can help the community,” said Gumm, a 30-year veteran of the ministry. “The number of homeless and people asking for assistance has gone up dramatically.”

The church is planning to build a gazebo as a focal point of the garden. There, the congregation plans to hold community events.

Salem Lutheran also will to use the garden to educate people on healthy and sustainable living. It hopes to teach skills in organic gardening, composting, worm farming and rainwater harvesting.

“We need people to sign up and start gardening,” Hokenson said. “We’ve put a lot of work into trying to get this thing going.”

The church is looking for donated seeds, plants, buckets and rain barrels. It also could use scrap lumber, soil and cash. The garden is located at 9906 232nd St. SW in Edmonds.

“We’re still dreaming about how to best use it,” Gumm said. “We want it to be a place for people.”

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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