Revitalized school garden takes root

Suquamish Elementary students will learn about gardening, botany and healthy eating

SUQUAMISH – Volunteers rolled up their sleeves on Martin Luther King Day and got a little dirt under their nails, while also working to give the students of Suquamish Elementary School an opportunity to learn about gardening, botany and healthy eating.

Two rows of six planter beds were given the volunteers’ attention as the group worked to clear the aisles and beds of weeds.

Alan Trunkey was one such volunteer, digging into the soil with a mattock and sifting out the weeds with his fingers.

“The idea is that a class can take on one of these beds as their own for each class,” Trunkey said. “They can start things in the classroom and then plant them out here and use it as part of learning about botany and all the different aspects about how things grow. They can use it as part of their science teaching.”

According to Suquamish Garden Club volunteer Sandy Senter, school gardens provide more than just botany education.

“In addition to just gardening and growing food, there’s a whole healthy eating component to a school garden as well,” Senter said. “Children learn about nutritious foods and nutrition and taste foods that many of them may have never tasted before. Kids are more inclined to eat things that they’ve planted and grown.”

The task of the day, Trunkey said, was to bring the work for teachers in the garden down to a manageable level, given the relatively limited amount of time that each group will have to spend in their corner of the garden.

“What we’re trying to do is make this seem like a reasonable amount of effort for the teachers to be able to come in here and use the beds,” he said. “With the weeds that are too high and too thick, it’s just too overwhelming for somebody to come and donate their after-school time to get it ready. So we’re trying to clean it up and make it appealing for the teachers.”

He added, “Right now, there’s at least three classes that are going to use this. That’ll increase the number of beds used [here] to at least five.”

The garden at Suquamish Elementary School still needs volunteers, Trunkey said. A service-oriented, green-thumbed candidate would be tasked with watering the beds in the summer, helping with general maintenance and assisting the students with seed plantings.

— Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Contact him at

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