It’s hard to keep a good gardener down. Drought, crop failure, hungry deer — those and other hazards come with the territory.
The kids in the Eastside Green Thumbs summer program found that out this week. When they arrived at the Eastside Family Support Center for the first day of their seven-week summer gardening camp Monday, campers and counselors were met with a burned-out shell where the garden shed had stood. And the greenhouse? Annihilated.
Weekend fireworks were the suspected cause.
Garden tools, plants, camp art supplies — all were lost.
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“I was kind of speechless,” said camper Mollee Raether, who this fall will be a fifth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School, across the street from the family center.
“It was crazy,” said camp counselor Miriam McBride, who will be a senior at Stadium High School this year. “A lot of things got lost.”
“We had no tools, the water was shut off, our hose was burned,” said camp leader Aliyah Simcoff. “It was looking bleak for a second.”
But instead of getting depressed, campers got busy. The older kids started cleaning up the mess, while younger ones built “bug hotels” with sticks and leaves. Soon, through the magic of social media postings, donations of replacement tools started pouring in.
“It was just such an incredible outpour from the community, wanting to help us,” Simcoff said.
The campers were back in business Wednesday, planting and watering. They’re keeping garden journals made of cardboard and recycled paper. On Thursday, they planned a field trip to the Tacoma Farmers Market to sample crops grown by area farmers. They’ll turn the garden bounty into a meal.
On Aug. 19, campers will host a community garden potluck at noon at the family center, 3569 E. Roosevelt Ave.
Simcoff said the goal of the program is to help the community by raising food and getting kids in touch with nature. But to feel the support that’s come back is “totally affirming, and totally touching, and really amazing for the kids to feel as well.”
How to help
Eastside Green Thumbs camp organizers say they are grateful for donations that helped them get the camp up and running.
But there are still a few items on the camp wish list:
▪ Art supplies
▪ Old tires or barrels that will be used to support potato plants
If you can help, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.