TACOMA, Wash. — More than 320 pounds of garlic seed — enough for about 300 gardeners — will be given away at community gardens in Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma during the next few weeks.
The seed is being made available courtesy of the Millennium Green Project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to encourage more community gardens, according to Steven Garret, the state’s recently appointed community gardening coordinator and a Washington State University Cooperative Extension educator in Pierce County.
Community gardens are open spaces managed voluntarily by groups of people where horticultural activities are practiced. Generally, people tend their own plots in the communal space.
So, why garlic?
“We needed something that could be planted right now.” Garret said. “Garlic is easy to grow without toxic chemicals and there is a lot of good research that shows it’s good for the circulatory system and it has anti-oxidant and antiviral properties.”
Harvested cloves can be saved and planted in the years ahead.
“I have grown this type of garlic from the same cloves for 10 years,” Garret said. “I never buy garlic.”
Garlic is a mainstay in the diet of many low-income gardeners in urban areas, the audience he hopes to reach. “Garlic is expensive for these families to buy.”
A pound of seed – about four bulbs – along with instructions from Washington State University on how to grow garlic will be given away to gardeners. Some seed will be set aside for gardens that raise produce for food banks.
Garret said that garlic can be planted through mid- November on the west side of the state and through October in the east side for harvest next summer.
For more information on local distribution plans, contact Lori Steiner, Spokane Community Gardens, (509) 324-8569; Lee Harper, Fremont Public Association, Seattle, (206) 694-6754 or Sue Bernstein, Tahoma Food System, Tacoma, (253) 472-7264.
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