Volunteers give community garden a facelift

By Sara Bruestle | Jul 25, 2013
Courtesy of: Richelle Taylor Volunteers from Philips Co. in Bothell paint a garden shed in the Mukilteo Community Garden crimson and gray – Washington State University colors – on July 12 as part of the company's annual Day of Caring.

The Mukilteo Community Garden recently received a fresh coat of paint – literally and figuratively.

About 50 volunteers from Philips Co. worked in the garden on July 12 at 4005 76th St. in Mukilteo as part of the company’s annual Philips Day of Caring.

“When you have 50-60 people come over and attack it, you can get a lot done in a [day],” said Brandon Haugh, materials supervisor at Philips, who led the Day of Caring.

“At the garden, they’ve never had that many volunteers before. It literally brought [them] to tears when we showed up.”

Volunteers built new decks for a garden shed and an office, painted the shed, weeded and mulched the perimeter, mowed and raked the path into the garden and picked up trash.

Working in two shifts of four hours each, the volunteers filled a 30-yard dumpster to the brim with weeds and other garbage.

“With an opportunity to have 50 people in the garden, we went crazy,” said Dode Carlson, president of the Mukilteo Community Garden. “We were like ‘We need this, we need that.’

“We do have volunteers, but this many all at once was like my Christmas.”

The shed was painted with the only paint colors the gardeners had on hand – crimson and gray – or Washington State University colors.

The paint colors seemed fitting to them since many of the garden’s master gardeners have gone through WSU-Snohomish County Extension programs.

Volunteer Tim Marrs, supply chain supervisor at Philips, also liked that the shed was painted in WSU colors because he is a WSU graduate.

“I happen to be a Cougar and one of the master gardeners is a Cougar, too, so I was teasing all the Husky people about how the Cougars were going to reign because we got to paint the shed Cougar colors,” he said.

“We’ve got to take our wins where can,” Marrs joked.

Marrs helped weed the perimeter of the garden and lay burlap bags and mulch to create a barrier against more weeds, as well as to coordinate the other projects.

United Way of Snohomish County helped to connect the Bothell-based Philips Co. System Operations team in the Ultrasound Division with the Mukilteo Community Garden.

The team was looking for community service projects to do for their fifth Philips Day – and the garden had lots of projects.

“We do it every year,” Haugh said. “We take our System Operations team and, essentially, we take the day off and we go out to some place in the community and we donate our time.”

“At the garden, they’re growing food and donating to the local food banks, and it inspired us. If we are going to give back some time, that’s the place we’d want to participate and give our time to.”

As the lead, Haugh coordinated a lot of the projects, from painting to weeding to garbage pick-up.

“We visited the site beforehand to identify what high-level projects there are so we could bring it back to the team,” he said. “We matched up the volunteers’ skills with the jobs we had.”

Philips had so much fun in the garden that they plan to come back next year to help again.

“It’s just very gratifying,” Marrs said. “The people who helped that day feel very good about their efforts [because it was for] a very positive non-profit that’s helping the community by providing fresh food to families in need.”

As a thank you, master gardeners fed the volunteers a fresh salad made with vegetables from their garden so they could “taste what we do for the food bank,” Dode said.

“It was Christmas three times over,” she said. “I was thrilled – we all were. We just stood there in awe, and if I started to help, one of them would come up and say ‘I’ll carry that for you.’

The Philips Co. also volunteered at the Sherwood Community Center in Lake Stevens July 12. The team painted, deep cleaned and did a lot of landscaping for the center.

It was a lot of work to finish projects at both the garden and the community center, but it was worth it, Haugh said.

“It was one of the most rewarding events I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” he said. “Especially since I got to lead it this year, it was even more rewarding.

“Supporting [the garden] with our time makes you feel great as person. That’s what it’s about, is giving back and working toward a bigger cause.”

The Mukilteo Community Garden annually donates 1,000 pounds or more of produce to the Mukilteo Food Bank, Everett Women and Children’s Shelter, Northshore Christian Church Pantry, Cocoon House, and the Everett Gospel Mission.

For more information, visit the garden or go to www.mukilteogarden.org.

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