Good Cheer volunteers turn out to honor MLK

The unselfish spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sowed more philanthropic seeds in the South Whidbey community on Monday.

More than 35 volunteers, many of them students, turned out at three community garden locations to honor the late civil rights leader with a day of service.

“People just kept coming,” Good Cheer garden manager Cary Peterson said late Monday. “We got so much done.”

The event was organized by the South Whidbey School District, South Whidbey Commons in Langley, local AmeriCorps representatives and Good Cheer Food Bank.

Teams of volunteers worked at Good Cheer’s garden near Bayview Corner, at the garden at nearby Bayview School and at the community garden behind Langley Middle School in Langley.

Despite a blustery early morning Monday, the volunteers were rewarded with a lovely, warm, spring-like day. There was even sunshine.

“It’s been wonderful,” Peterson said about noon Monday as she directed workers to waiting projects. “I’m so happy it didn’t rain.”

Construction of the Good Cheer garden began a year ago as volunteers responded to President Obama’s call for a national day of service to honor King.

Throughout the past year, the garden, on about a third of an acre and almost entirely volunteer supported, produced more than 5,500 pounds of fruits and vegetables for the adjacent food bank, Peterson said.

On Monday, work focused on stringing a wire fence around the base of beds to keep the rabbits out, on improving composting areas, and putting a roof on the new garden shed being constructed with recycled wood. Volunteers also helped clean out new beds and terraces.

Helpers included about 10 members of the Inca Pride Alpaca 4-H Club, who come mostly from the Langley-Clinton area.

“We wanted to give so the garden could give more,” said club general leader Pam Uhlig of Langley, as she helped students dig a trench to anchor a bunny fence.

“I thought it would be a nice thing to do,” said David Nehring, 16, of Langley as he manipulated a shovel. Assisting him were his shoveling sisters, Sarah, 11 and Martha, 13.

“We’re doing it to help Good Cheer,” Sarah said.

Elsewhere in the garden, volunteers Mully Mullally and Doug Allderdice, both of Langley, were busy weeding a terrace and contemplating King’s philosophy.

“I believe in his mission and goals,” Mullally said. “It’s how you go out and change your community.”

Allderdice said he has been listening again to King’s speeches.

“His words are wearing well with time,” he said.

Behind Bayview School, a quartet of volunteers were busy constructing a three-section compost bin to help nourish the nearby school plot.

“We’re getting it ready to garden again,” said coordinator Laurel Cutrona of Langley.

Michelle Wolfensparger of Langley and her daughter Megan, 16, a volunteer at South Whidbey Commons’ Island Coffeehouse & Books, piled soil on a tarp and hefted it to one of the composting areas.

“I’ve always want to garden, and figured this is a good way to see what it’s like,” Megan said.

“I’m the world’s best dirt sifter,” said Eric Vanderbilt, a South Whidbey High School student and another coffeehouse volunteer.

“They invited me to do it, and I said that’s great,” Vanderbilt added as he pulled a fat earthworm from the compost pile.

“Worms just seem to migrate here,” he said. “I’m not sure how they know to come, but they do.”

At Langley Middle School, volunteers worked on an irrigation system at the garden. Its produce, grown by students and community members, is donated to Good Cheer.

The day’s events also included collection of food and books to benefit the food bank.

Items can still be dropped off at Island Coffeehouse & Books,

124 Second St. in Langley.

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