Behind the scenes at Sunnyside Nursery's food bank garden | Column

I would imagine that most of you have read either in The Marysville Globe this spring or the Everett Herald this fall about the food bank garden we developed this year. They were both great articles about the garden but just in case you missed it I want to revisit the topic because in addition to all that information there needs to be a bit more about the sponsors that made it all possible.

Back in late winter of this year we decided at the nursery that we would like to offer some land that we had idle for the purposes of growing food for the Marysville Food Bank. We knew we would need some help from our fellow businesses to make it a success so we started out by contacting The Cedar Grove Composting Company. They were more than happy to donate over 80 cubic yards of their wonderful compost, a retail value of over $2,000. (While I realize they have had some bad press this year for their unpleasant odors they never the less have a fabulous product that should be in every yard in the county. It makes things grow like crazy so don’t be too hard on them).

The next step was to have the compost spread over the ground and for that task we enlisted the Bark Time Blower Truck Service. This is local company that will come to your house and blow in bark or compost or whatever it is you need to complete your landscape project. They spent about six hours (a several hundred dollar value) covering the ground with this rich, dark compost.

I should interject at this point the fact that this ground where we were doing this project was not the best of soils. It is at the north end of our parking lot and stays very wet late into the season. Springbrook Nursery of Lake Stevens generously donated 12 yards of sand (worth $200 - $300) to help with the drainage but we needed it mixed into the soil. We also decided to build some raised beds to try and get the soil to drain and dry out. To our rescue came Carl Hall with Dig-It Excavation and Land Design with his monster excavator. He expertly mixed in the compost and sand and formed several large beds. Again, his time was probably worth several hundred dollars.

The next step was to finish rototilling the beds so they could be planted and for this service we asked Paul Taylor of Consolidated Landscape and Maintenance. He in turn asked United Rentals to donate a heavy duty walk-behind tiller and then his crew spent most of the day blending in all the ingredients and making a fine seed bed for the planting phase. Again this labor was worth in excess of $300 - $400.

I had already lined up donated seeds and plants from our nursery, Ferry Morse Seeds and Skagit Gardens Wholesale Nursery. All we needed was someone to take over the project. It was at this point that a group of kids from Marysville-Pilchuck High School stepped forward and committed to planting, weeding, thinning, watering, staking and harvesting all summer long and they did a fantastic job. When it was all said and done they had delivered to the food bank over a half ton of produce which included beans, beets, potatoes, corn, tomatoes, peppers, summer and winter squash. And none of this was planted until the first week of July.

The kids are already planning on what to plant for next season and are hoping to get a much earlier start next year. Considering that we have done all the prep work to improve the soil and the drainage I don’t see this as a problem. I’ve already got more compost lined up to mulch the beds for the winter.

While everyone played a vital roll in the success of this project I want to make sure that the businesses that helped out get proper recognition. In total, they contributed over $3,000 worth of time, materials and equipment in the name of community service and public relations. It is often the small businesses of our community that are the unsung heroes when it comes to charitable contributions. All they ask in return is that you think of them when you are in need of their services or products. And that, my fellow gardener, is all I am asking as well.

Steve Smith is owner of Sunnyside Nursery in Marysville. You can reach him at 425-334-2002 or email at

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