Washington State University
    Island County Extension 
    School Garden Program Coordinator
    Tricia Heimer
    Island County Public Health
    SNAP-ED Coordinator



School Garden

  • Our school garden was created during the 2016-2017 School Year thanks to a $35,000 annual renewable Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed) grant for a school garden project with Washington State University's Island County Extension. 

    The grant focuses on sustainability and hands-on learning to improve the nutritional health of children and families through the creation of a school food garden.  In addition to the annual vegetable garden, our school has a greenhouse, compost bins, and perennial food plants, fruit trees, berry canes, and grapevines.

    In our garden blog, you will learn about the nutritional information of local and seasonal produce, find tasty, kid-friendly recipes, and follow students as they learn about seeds, growing food plants, composting, worm bins, and lots of other fun ways to get dirty while growing good things to eat. 


School Garden Blog

  • Harvest of the Month: Asparagus | June 2022

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 6/1/2022

    asparagusIt may be hard for many of you to believe, but this is a picture of asparagus -- a far cry from the vegetable we find in the grocery store or farmers’ market! Asparagus is an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin K, & Thiamin and contains folate and beta carotene. A one-cup serving only has 23 calories and is very low in fat.

    Asparagus is grown in Washington state and can be grown in a home garden with just a little work and patience. It is a perennial vegetable, meaning it returns every year. Because of that, it takes 3 years to establish in a garden. The payoff comes from having fresh asparagus every spring for up to 15 years. You plant one-year-old crowns (roots) in the spring and give them a full 2 to 3 years of growing before you start harvesting the spears (stems). After harvesting your crop for about 4-6 weeks you will want to let the ferns grow so they can store energy in the roots for next year’s crop.

    See https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2079/2014/02/Asparagus2.pdf for more growing tips.

    Spring Vegetable Saute

    This is less a recipe than an idea: basically, lots of spring vegetables, cooked quickly and simply. Serve them alone or as a topping for rice or barley, add a protein (and even a spoonful of Zippy Green Sauce),  and call it a grain bowl. 

    PREP TIME 20 mins | TOTAL TIME 20 mins | 4 Servings 


    • Cutting board
    • Sharp knife (adult needed)
    • Measuring spoons
    • Large skillet
    • Heatproof spatula or wooden spoon
    • Potholders 


    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 6 scallions, root ends trimmed off, greens and whites chopped
    • 2 handfuls of green beans, stem ends trimmed or snapped off, cut in half
    • 1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off, cut in half
    • 2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut across into half-moon slices
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt 


    1. Put the skillet on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the oil. When the oil is hot (a  piece of scallion should sizzle immediately), add the scallions and cook, stirring, until they are bright green, 1 to 2 minutes.
    2. Add the green beans, asparagus, and zucchini and cook, stirring frequently, until just tender,  about 5 minutes.
    3. Add the salt and serve right away.  

    The part of asparagus you eat is the plant’s shoot after it pushes out of the ground. If you didn’t eat it,  the plant would grow into a large, feathery fern with inedible red berries. 

    OR ELSE 

    • Use a single vegetable or any combination of your favorites (about 6 cups total).
    • Add a few grinds of black pepper.
    • Drizzle with 1 tablespoon soy sauce.
    • Add a splash of hot sauce (if you like spicy).
    • Swirl in 2 tablespoons of tahini (sesame paste).
    • Stir in ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs, like basil or parsley, at the end. 


    Cheesy Roasted Asparagus

    Making this for someone else? Give them ketchup and call it "asparagus fries," if you think that will encourage them to try it! 

    PREP TIME10 mins | TOTAL TIME 20 mins | 4 Servings 


    • Cutting board
    • Sharp knife (adult needed)
    • Rimmed baking sheet
    • Measuring spoons
    • Tongs
    • Box grater
    • Oven mitts 


    • 1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off (see below)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
    • 1⁄2 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1⁄2 lemon 


    1. Turn the oven on and set the heat to 450 degrees.
    2. Put the asparagus on the baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Use the tongs or your clean hands to coat them with oil and spread them out.
    3. Once the oven temperature has reached 450 degrees, put the baking sheet in the oven and roast until the asparagus turns bright green, 5-10 minutes depending on whether your asparagus is thin or thick.
    4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Sprinkle the cheese over the asparagus and toss well.
    5. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast until the cheese melts and turns golden, about 2 minutes.
    6. Squeeze the lemon over the asparagus and serve. 

    HOW TO: 
    The bottom ends of asparagus stalks are woody. To remove them, bend each raw stalk near the bottom until it snaps. (It’ll break off at just the right point.) 



    Island County 
    This institution is an equal opportunity provider. 
    This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- SNAP 



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  • Garden Update

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 5/9/2022

    Girl in pink cranking millWe're so thankful that the weather has turned and we can start holding garden lessons outside more regularly.  Students recently took advantage of the sun to expand their understanding of where our food comes from.  This time they tried their hand at grinding wheat into flour.  Students were surprised at how hard it was to hand-crank the grinding machine.  So far, they've planted, tended, harvested, threshed, winnowed, and now they are making flour -- what a lot of work goes into making a loaf of bread!

    Other updates in the garden include clearing an area for a fourth grade companion planting, known as a three-sisters garden.  This is based on a Native American technique of interplanting corn, beans, and squash and aligns with their social studies unit.

    And for those interested, WSU Island County Extention SNAP-Ed has a Garden Assistant position open, which will support CHE and OVE.  Resumes and letters of interest should be sent to Tricia Heimer.


    Girl and boy in garden with sorrel leave treatsTwo boys in the garden

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  • Harvest of the Month: Rhubarb | May 2022

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 5/1/2022

    Rhubarb plants in gardenRhubarb is a hardy perennial vegetable that grows well in Western Washington. It is a relative of buckwheat and has an earthy, sour flavor. Rhubarb thrives in cold climates and comes from Western China, Tibet, Mongolia, Siberia, and neighboring areas where its fleshy roots were used as medicine. It was brought to Europe in the early 1600s and became a commonly used vegetable in America early in the 18th century.

    The underground portion of rhubarb is composed of a large, woody rhizome with fibrous roots. The edible portion of this plant is the leaf stalk, which grows from buds found on the crown near the soil's surface. The leaf stalk is harvested as an ingredient for pies, sauces, and jams. But rhubarb leaves are toxic to humans and animals. This low-calorie vegetable provides vitamins A and C, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, phosphorus, and dietary fiber.

    Rhubarb is a popular early, cool-season, perennial vegetable. It’s easy to grow in the home garden. Rhubarb makes a great addition to an edible landscape. It is big-leaved, often brightly colored, and has excellent flavor. A mature rhubarb plant can easily reach 2 1/2 to 3 feet high and 3 to 3 1/2 feet wide.

    Rhubarberry Mash

    What's a "mash"? Well, it's a "compote," which is just a fancy word for cooked or stewed fruit. Stewed fruit is cooked slowly in liquid. Serve alone, with a dollop (spoonful) of yogurt, or use as a sauce on yogurt or ice cream. You can even serve it as a sauce for chicken or pork.  https://www.chopchopfamily.org/recipe/rhubarberry-mash/

    PREP TIME 10 mins

    TOTAL TIME 30 mins

    SERVES 4

    KITCHEN GEARRhubarb Compote

    • Cutting board
    • Sharp knife (adult needed)
    • Measuring cup
    • Measuring spoons
    • Cooking pot
    • Spoon


    • 1 1⁄2 cups rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
    • 2 cups mixed berries, including blueberries, raspberries, or quartered strawberries
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon cornstarch or flour
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, honey, or brown sugar


    1. Put the rhubarb, berries, and cornstarch into the saucepan and put the saucepan on the stove. Turn the heat to medium, cover, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 7 minutes, stirring with the spoon from time to time.
    2. Turn the heat to low, uncover, and cook until the rhubarb is soft and the mixture has thickened, about 15 minutes.
    3. Add the lemon juice and sweetener and stir well.
    4. Set aside to cool a little bit and serve warm. Or cover and refrigerate overnight.


    Strawberry-Rhubarb Spritzer

    Here's a zippy pink cool-off that will refresh you completely! Rhubarb is a late-springtime vegetable that many people use more like a fruit. The flavor is quite tart, so it's always sweetened and often paired with other fruits, especially strawberries, to make desserts like pies and crisps. If you can't find fresh rhubarb at your store, look for it in the freezer section near the frozen berries. 

    By Adam Ried  

    PREP TIME 15 mins

    TOTAL TIME 1 hour 30 mins

    SERVES 6

    KITCHEN GEARSpritzer

    • Cutting board
    • Sharp knife (adult needed)
    • Vegetable peeler
    • Measuring cup
    • Medium-sized pot
    • Wooden spoon
    • Medium mesh strainer
    • Small bowl
    • Measuring spoons
    • Six tall glasses


    • One strip of zest from 1 orange
    • 1⁄2 cinnamon stick
    • 1⁄4 pound rhubarb (about two small stalks), trimmed, leaves discarded, and thinly sliced
    • 1 cup sliced fresh or thawed frozen strawberries
    • 1⁄4 cup honey
    • pinch salt
    • 2⁄3 cup water
    • Sparkling water (also called "seltzer"), chilled
    • ice cubes


    1. If you're going to use the orange zest, wash the orange well and use a vegetable peeler to remove a long strip of the orange part of the peel.
    2. Put the rhubarb, strawberries, honey, salt, water, orange zest, and/or cinnamon stick, if you're using it, in the pot.
    3. Put the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture to a boil (you'll see lots of bubbles around the inside edges of the pot) and stir to dissolve the honey.
    4. Turn the heat down to low and simmer ("Simmer" means to cook at a very gentle boil), stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb and berries become completely mushy, about 8 minutes. Set the mixture aside and let it cool to room temperature. Throw away the orange peel and/or cinnamon stick.
    5. Set the strainer over the bowl and pour the rhubarb mixture into the strainer. Stir the rhubarb with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to help it go through the holes. (You should end up with 3/4 cup of rhubarb puree; the leftover pulp in the strainer is delicious mixed with some yogurt, or you can compost it.)
    6. Divide the puree evenly among the six glasses. Top each with 1 cup sparkling water and stir gently. Add the ice cubes and serve. 


    May Harvest of the Month Rhubarb

    This institution is an equal-opportunity provider.

    This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program- SNAP.


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  • Harvest of the Month: Spinach | April 22

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 4/1/2022

    Spinach bundleSpinach is thought to be Persian in origin, probably cultivated over 2000 years ago.  It's a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, folate, and magnesium.

    Spinach is the most widely used dark leafy green in the U.S., popular for cooking and raw salads. It's often the first vegetable directly seeded into the garden in early spring, as it prefers and thrives in the cool, moist soil. Spinach is generally available until a heavy freeze or snow cover in late fall. In Washington State, spinach is available from April through December. Both the flat-leafed and the crinkly-leafed (or savoy) varieties are commonly produced.

    Spinach with Peanut Sauce

    1 tablespoon crunchy peanut butter,
    2 tablespoons soy sauce.
    1 clove of garlic chopped
    1 bunch spinach or kale leaves, washed and stemmed (approx 1 lb)
    1 tablespoon lemon juice

    In a skillet or wok at medium heat, combine peanut butter, soy sauce, and garlic over med-high heat. Add spinach or kale, sprinkle with lemon juice. Then stir until wilted, about 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately

    Portuguese Spinach Soup

    1/2 lb linguica or chorizo sausage, sliced
    8 cups chicken broth
    3-4 medium potatoes (1 lb) peeled and diced
    12 oz spinach, leaves chopped roughly (8 cups lightly packed)
    salt and pepper

    Combine sausage and stock in a large pot, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer while preparing the potatoes. In another saucepan, cover potatoes with water and bring to a boil. Boil till tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and lightly mash for a lumpy texture. Stir into the broth and sausage mixture along with the kale. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until kale is quite tender. Season with salt and pepper and serve hot.

    (Washington State University, Snohomish County Extension)

    Growing Tips

    The great thing about growing spinach in western Washington is you can be harvesting spinach and starting a spring crop right now! There is spinach being harvested in some of the school gardens at this time.

    One key to successfully growing spinach is to plant the seeds when soil temperatures are cool. Spinach seeds germinate best at a soil temperature of 45⁰ F to 68⁰F. Recommendations are to plant spinach about four to eight weeks before your average last frost date in the spring and six to eight weeks before the average first frost date in the fall. Two crops per year can be achieved. 

     For the best results, use fresh seeds as the germination rate for this crop deteriorates quickly. Always check the seed packet for specific varietal recommendations. A raised bed with good drainage is perfect for growing an early spring crop since the soil warms quickly and can be worked following just a few warm days. Spinach likes full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Prepare the planting bed by amending the soil with rich compost or aged manure. Mini-till or spade the ground and level it off with a rake. Mature spinach has a long taproot, so loosen the soil to between 12 and 18 inches. Sow the seeds ½ inch deep, two inches apart, in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Or even a deep plant pot on a sunny deck for fresh greens all spring!

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  • Collard Greens | March 2022

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 3/3/2022

    Collard greens are usually available from May through December in Washington State. Native to the eastern Mediterranean region and Asia Minor, collard greens are the oldest known member of the cabbage family, dating back to ancient times. Instead of forming into a “head” like other cabbages, collard greens grow in loose-leaved bunches.

    Nutrition Facts

    Collard greens are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K and folate, and they also contain high amounts of fiber and calcium. A ½ cup serving of cooked collard greens contains 150% percent of the daily value for vitamin A, 30% for vitamin C, and 15% for calcium. Try making Collard Roll-ups or Hoppin' John as a tasty way to get these nutrients.

    In the Garden

    Collard greens are a cold-weather crop and can be grown and harvested year-round in the Pacific Northwest. We are harvesting these leafy green veggies from our school garden now. And even better, now that the weather is warming up we can start new crops of this vegetable in the garden.

    Check these online sources for more information about seed starting and growing collard greens.

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  • Wheat Threshing with Mrs. Rusnak's Class

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 12/2/2021

    Did you know that our school garden tried growing wheat this year?  The trial was a success and today Miss Tricia brought in some of the harvest for students to experience threshing a very old-fashioned way -- with their feet!  Here are some photos from Mrs. Rusnak's lesson:

    Boy with pile of wheat

    Prior to threshing

    Teacher and students in line walking on tarp covered wheat

    Walking to thresh the wheat

    Teacher and students checking results Boys trying hand threshing

    Checking the results and trying hand-threshing.  Wheat is prickly!

    Girl looking at wheat grain diagram Wheat structure

    Learning about wheat grain structure

    Students and teacher discussing flour production

    Discussing flour production and usage.  There is about one pound of flour in one loaf of bread.  

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  • Cranberries | November 2021

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 11/1/2021

    This month's Harvest of the Month features cranberries.



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  • Apple Science

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 10/29/2021

    Students in Mrs. Ward's fourth-grade class learned about oxidation in a recent garden lesson.

    They used the scientific process, first creating a theory-- that higher acidity would retard oxidation, and then everyone got to take part -- either dipping apples into water/lemon juice/vinegar/citric acid powder, watching for color changes, timing dips and changes, or recording data. 

    The best part?  Afterward, they got bites of different, fresh apples to try!


    Boy recording apple data

    Two girls, one writing, and a boy holding a bowl

    Tricia writing test variable data for students



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  • Apples | September 2021

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 9/1/2021

    September Harvest of the Month:  Apples


    Flyer showing apples and girl in chef hat and coat

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  • Blackberries | June 2021

    Posted by Annette Stillwell on 6/1/2021

    Unripened blackberries are red in color • Blackberries are considered a bramble crop, due to thorns • High in fiber and Vitam

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