Planting a garden of dreams in Everett

  • Fri Nov 12th, 2010 8:52pm
  • News

By Katya Yefimova Herald Writer

EVERETT — When Yin Yu volunteered with the Everett Housing Authority, she noticed how little fresh food some children had when they were out of school in the summer.

She decided to build a vegetable garden at Grandview Homes, a low-income complex near Everett Community College that’s home to almost 500 tenants, including many immigrants from Ukraine, Iraq and Africa.

Yu, 26, is studying community development at the Evergreen State College in Olympia. She grew up in Edmonds and went to Edmonds-Woodway High School. She proposed the project for no other reason than because she wanted to help.

“I felt like, if I don’t help make a garden for them, nobody else will,” she said.

She called Gary McLaughlin, a horticulture teacher at Lynnwood High School. Together, they are trying to involve high school students in maintaining the garden and mentoring the local kids.

Some of the tenants came from countries where they relied on their own gardens to grow food, said Teena Ellison, family services supervisor for the Housing Authority. She hopes the little garden will teach the children new skills and encourage adults to use the knowledge they already have in a new environment.

The Housing Authority is looking for land to start a larger community garden in north Everett.

McLaughlin and his students plan to come back several times between now and spring. When the time comes to plant vegetables, they will ask the kids what they want to eat.

“It’s good for the high school kids to see how excited the younger kids are,” he said. “Hopefully, they’ll consider doing more volunteer work when they are adults and embrace people from different cultures.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a handful of Lynnwood High School students showed up at the small community center to help make that garden a reality.

They were left with little to do when neighborhood kids grabbed all of the available shovels and got to work.

Zaina Hussein, 16, stood by, telling her younger cousins to be careful with the shovels.

“It’ll be great,” she said. “All the people who come from somewhere else will say: ‘Wow, look at this community.’”

Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452,

How to help

The following donations are needed: work gloves for children and student volunteers, rain barrel and worm compost bin (needed in spring, soil) crushed rocks, wood to raise the garden bed, garden tools and shed, and cash donations to buy something to recognize the volunteers.

For more information, contact Gary McLaughlin at McLaughlinG@