There’s a local non-profit organization called GRuB that I’ve volunteered with off and on for the last year or so. They have a really cool circular program where they recruit at-risk high school students, pay them to work in the organic garden learning to make raised beds and grow organic fruits and vegetables, and have these students build raised beds for local low-income families so that low-income families in Thurston County can raise much of their own healthy produce. There are so many really cool things about this project that it’s hard to describe them all, so you should just go check out their website if you’re interested.

I just show up for the occasional letter-folding party, and this time of year is when they do the big seed-sorting party. They provide a bag of seeds to each family for whom they build a raised bed garden. Various seed companies donate these huge boxes of seeds, and they need to be sorted out and packaged for each family. It takes a couple hours, and after all the packages are sorted there are miscellaneous seed packets left over that the volunteers are allowed to divy up. I went and helped out today, expecting to get a couple packets of seeds, maybe some radishes, a little lettuce, a few carrots maybe. I had no idea how big an operation it was, and here is what I came home with. You can click for a really big picture where you can identify what most of the packets are.
seed packets from GruB

I’m a little overwhelmed by it all, but totally excited. I don’t think I’ll need to buy any seeds at all for the new house garden. In fact, I don’t know where I’m going to put everything. In particular, there were boxes and boxes of flowers and I may have got carried away with all the variety that I picked. I also came home with about 15 packets of lettuce seed, but I think I’ll actually be able to use that, since you can grow it pretty close to year-round around here, and Preston and I try to eat a lot of salad. If we had unlimited access to it, we’d probably go through a head of lettuce every two or three days. I also got some crazy stuff that I don’t even know what it is, like kohlrabi and salad burnet. Because, did I mention, it was all free!

Now I have some serious garden planning to work on, in order to figure out when everything needs to be started, and how much sun it wants, and how I’m going to fit it all in. And of course, I don’t want to actually start any of the indoor starts until after we move, and I don’t want to get too invested in planning the garden until we actually close on the new place. I’m trying to keep in mind that we don’t have the house yet, and I shouldn’t get my heart too set on it. But even if we don’t get the new house, there is actually a really large community garden space at this apartment complex we are in now. It’s totally unused now, so even if we decided to stay here for a few months more, I’d start the spring crops here. In any case, I have a lot of research (when the hell are you supposed to plant kohlrabi??) and planning to do.