Thursday, May 28, 2009

Rochester Community "Visioning Event"

A Luncheon to present "The Rochester Horizons Project"to the Rochester Community will be held Sunday, June 14th at the Rochester Community Center between 1:00 to 3:00 PM. It will include BBQ pulled pork for sandwiches & a salad. All Rochester residents are encouraged to attend but so we know how many will be coming please contact Donna Weaver Smith at (360) 273-0707 or e-mail her at

Friday, May 22, 2009

Rochester Basic Computer Literacy for Adults

The plan for the “Basic Computer Literacy” for adults to help people in poverty become more employable is being finalized. The initial student will be a client of Washington State Labor & Industries who is being re-trained for other employment. It is anticipated this initial class will begin the first week of July.

The “Basic Computer Literacy” course will include instruction on basic computer, Internet use, word processing and spreadsheets. Each of these four sections will be broken down into short 2-hour modules of learning for a total of twenty-one sessions.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rochester Community Gardens

A Short History of the Rochester Community Gardens Project By Bill Liddle (May 5, 2009)

While manning the Grand Mound Rochester Park Association (GMRPA) booth during the Swede Day Festival last June, I was approached by Rochelle, a staff member of GRUB, (Garden Raised Bounty). GRUB is a non-profit group based in Olympia, Washington that is promoting organic gardening. She asked me if GMRPA would help them establish a community garden project in our park in Rochester. GRUB had a grant, which would provide materials to construct the garden plots.

Rochelle felt the GMRPA Park in Rochester was the most desirable location because of being near the center of town and several mobile home parks nearby with numerous low-income people. My initial response was it was a noble idea but I didn’t think it could happen. There were two prime obstacles that needed to be overcome: water availability and the fact the park was on land owned by the Rochester School District. We, GMRPA, had been totally unsuccessful in trying to convince the School District Maintenance supervisor to allow us to install an outside faucet so we could water the trees and shrubs we were wanting to plant in the park.

I did arrange for her to make a presentation to the GMRPA board of directors and also invited the maintenance supervisor to be present. We discussed the many hurdles that would need to be addressed. All agreed it was a fantastic idea that should be explored further. The maintenance supervisor agreed to present the idea to the school board for their decision. Most of us were quite surprised when the answer came back with their approval of the project.

Within a short time period other organizations were brought into the discussions and a collation of eight agencies was formed consisting of GRUB (Garden Raised Bounty), ROOF, WSU/Master Gardeners, Rising River Farm, 4H, the Rochester School District and the Rochester Water Association with the Grand Mound Rochester Park Association as the lead organization. The mission statement for this project is to “Provide help to people with limited space to grow their own vegetables.” An additional goal is to provide assistance in the form of education about how to grow, prepare for eating and to preserve for later use the vegetables from these garden plots.

On a Friday and Saturday in November a crew of local community members and GRUB workers gathered to construct nine 4 x 8 foot plots for wheelchair-bound individuals and thirteen 8 x 8 foot plots which were then filled with soil.

Fencing materials have been purchased to enclose the garden plot area. Gardening tools have been purchased and will be available for use by those who sign up for the plots and two water faucets have been installed. A shed to store the tools in will be built prior to the spring garden season.

On Friday, February 13th several individuals from the collation, community members, potential gardeners, and Hart High School students gathered to place “hog fuel” in between the garden plots to reduce weed growth and give us a clean surface to walk on. Additional work parties will be formed to install the fence and build the shed. On April 25th five of us gathered to build the 8 foot by 8 foot garden tool storage building. It is now complete except for painting and placing the shingles on the roof, which will be done as weather permits. The fencing materials previously purchased, are waiting on good weather to be installed.

The people who have signed up for the garden plots have been low-income individual except for one person who will raise vegetables to be given to the area food banks. This is the first of many more projects planned to help reduce poverty in the Grand Mound Rochester area.