It’s potato planting time

It’s the time of year when we should be putting seed potatoes in the ground to grow ourselves an abundance of these tasty members of the nightshade family (the same family as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants). An easy way to remember when to plant potatoes is to always do it around the same time as St. Patrick’s Day. Even though that was last week, we are still well within the planting window.

Potatoes are relatively simple to grow and mostly require loose, well-fortified soil and consistent watering. High Mowing Seeds is a seed grower we admire and they have a helpful guide to growing potatoes that we’d like to share…we’ll be paying specific attention to the sections of the article that talk about growing in “Hills” and “Raised Beds”.

LCSG Planting Guide is a resource for School Garden volunteers or home gardeners

In 2015 one of our AmeriCorps members started on a project to build a growing guide that School Garden volunteers, staff, and even home gardeners could use as a reminder of what to plant and when. That AmeriCorps member is now a full-time employee with School Gardens and she has finished “building” the LCSG Planting Guide. Hooray!
Adapting information from resources like the School Garden Project in Eugene, OR, the Seattle Tilth Maritime NW Garden Guide, and Territorial Seed Company, this “at-a-glance” resource can be used one month at a time or printed and stored as a booklet. Either way, we hope you’ll find it useful.

Find the LCSG Planting Guide on our website.

Spring Garden Programs begin week of March 7

Spring Garden Programs begin the second week of March, which means weekly volunteer opportunities!
If you haven’t volunteered with us, please email to tell us particular times you’re available – weekly, monthly, or even annually – every hour makes a difference in the lives of kids and families in our community.

School Gardens Spring 2016 image

Print your own copy: School Gardens Spring 2016

Edible Olympic is online


What is Edible Olympic?

First the garden. On Thursdays students are farmers. They work in a 10,000 square foot garden that was an unfenced green field in early 2015. They’ve planted berry bushes, fruit trees, and have rows of soil waiting for the spring planting. They plant, weed, and thin their crops until the food is ready to harvest.

Second the kitchen. On Fridays the students are chefs. They take this produce and combine it with healthy, economical groceries and slice, dice, bake, roast, simmer, and sauté incredible meals. After the cooking class they take the ingredients they need home and cook and eat the same meal with their families.

Training for School Garden Volunteers 2/19 & 2/20 – Register Now!

“Ultimately, it is our volunteers who make it possible for students to experience the garden in a meaningful way.”

Whether you are already helping in a school garden, or just thinking about getting your hands dirty, this FREE TRAINING EVENT is for you!

We hope you can attend one of these two (identical) sessions:

  • Friday February 19, 9:00 to noon
  • Saturday February 20, 9:00 to noon

Northlake Elementary
Garden Lab Rm 26 (2nd portable)
2210 Olympia Way
Longview, WA 98632

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Learn simple, effective techniques for helping kids (and plants!) to grow. We will work in the classroom as well as out in the garden; there will be plenty of hands-on learning. Topics include:
  • Why school gardens?
  • Garden activities and lessons
  • Starting seeds indoors and out
  • Composting with kids
  • Cooking with kids
  • Garden safety
  • Group management
  • Inquiry Based Learning
  • School Garden Resources
  • and more!

Enjoy learning and connecting with great people who have a shared passion for kids, gardens, and good food. Snacks provided. Meet the new garden rabbits Sam and Sorrel.

This training is free! All are welcome.

To REGISTER: send an email to, specify which day works best for you.

See you there – thank you!

Seed companies make it possible for School Gardens to grow

LCSG - Inside a Fava Bean at CA
Having quality seeds helps students grow quality produce.

Over the last year, we have been proud to help students plant 102,000 square feet of space in more than fourteen School Gardens. That’s a lot of growing space! When you’re dedicated to starting your veggies from seed, that much garden space means having plenty of quality seeds around.


Students learn to grow, tend, harvest and eat fresh produce in School Gardens.
Students learn to grow, tend, harvest and eat fresh produce in School Gardens.

We are immensely grateful for the companies who provided us with seeds this past year. We’re still working on the tally, but the amount of fresh produce grown in 2015 far exceeds the amount we were able to grow the previous year.


It is with admiration for the beautiful work they do and their generous giving that we thank:

Students start seeds during Springtime garden activities.
Students start seeds during Springtime garden activities.

Adaptive Seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Botanical Interests
High Mowing Seeds
Irish Eyes Garden Seeds
Peaceful Valley Seeds
Renee’s Garden Seeds
Seeds for Our Planet
Siskiyou Seeds
Territorial Seed Company
Tsugawa Nursery
Turtle Tree Seed
  Uprising Seeds
  Van der Salm Bulb Farm





Xerces Society Pollinator Habitat signs help make School Gardens a haven for pollinators

Students show off yellow kale flowers favored by many pollinator species, in front of their school garden
Carrolls students show off yellow kale flowers favored by many pollinator species, in front of their School Garden.

Earlier this year, The Xerces Society of Portland generously donated Pollinator Habitat signs for all of our School Gardens. Posting these signs with students has started a number of profound conversations about the vital role that pollinators play in our gardens and our food supply.

A pollinator habitat sign proudly displayed in the Huntington School Garden
A pollinator habitat sign proudly displayed in the Huntington School Garden.

For some students, these conversations have made them less fearful of insects that they thought were only made for stinging, and others have become more interested in paying attention to the small differences between various kinds of pollinators. The signs have also been a good reminder to simply be aware of the helpers in our gardens that are not always easy to see.

Not all bees are yellow and black - this species of sweat bee is a beautiful metallic green. Photo by Hillary Jensen.
Not all bees are simply yellow and black – this species of sweat bee is a beautiful metallic green. Photo by Hillary Jensen.

Students have helped to create a great deal of pollinator habitat in school gardens by planting many flowers and other plants crucial to their survival.



Thank you, Xerces Society!

To help protect an essential part of our environment, take the Pollinator Pledge and order a Pollinator Habitat sign for your own garden.

A "Thank You" for Xerces decorated by Carrolls students.
A “Thank You” for Xerces decorated by Carrolls students.











$250k Kaiser grant expands School Gardens for Longview and Kelso


December 1, 2015

Kaiser Permanente Northwest Awards Grant to Cowlitz County Health Department
Cowlitz County Health Department’s (CCHD) Office of Healthy Communities received $250,000 over
the next three years to partner with Lower Columbia School Gardens and the Longview and Kelso
School Districts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption for school-age children. This collaborative
project will expand access to school garden activities and curricula for children and their families.

This grant will allow Lower Columbia School Gardens to expand their capacity to serve more children in
our county through their 14 school-based gardens, and to integrate their programs and activities more
fully into the school environment. Longview and Kelso School Districts will be able to fully utilize school
gardens as an educational and community resource.

“We are grateful to Kaiser Permanente for this opportunity to engage even more kids in our school
gardens. We know that school gardens work; kids are more likely to eat and enjoy fruit and vegetables
they grow themselves, and they get excited about healthy cooking and eating as they learn about
where real food comes from and how it’s grown. We see that reality in our work every day, and this
new partnership will allow us to share that experience with more children, teachers and families in our
community,” says Ian Thompson, Executive Director of Lower Columbia School Gardens.

Kaiser Permanente Northwest is dedicated to improving the health of individuals and the communities
they serve. Specifically, their work is focused on connecting low-income people to health care,
educating children and families about healthy eating and active living, creating and sharing
groundbreaking research, strengthening health safety nets in communities, and supporting their employees’ community engagement.

CCHD provides broad-spectrum public health services to Cowlitz County residents aimed at improving
and protecting the health and well-being of individuals of all ages. To contact the Health Department,
please call 360-414-5599.

CCHD Official Press Release

We Are Hiring! Full-time Garden Coordinator

Job Announcement, November 2015

Garden Coordinator

Lower Columbia School Gardens

Lower Columbia School Gardens (LCSG) is a non-profit organization in Cowlitz County that helps schools start and sustain dynamic, thriving garden programs. LCSG has helped create and sustain 13 school gardens in Southwest Washington, and engages over 3,000 students each year in hands-on, garden based learning activities. Find out more on our website,

The Garden Coordinator facilitates a wide variety of hands-on learning for children in multiple school gardens by leading a wide variety of garden-based learning activities, including teaching garden and cooking lessons tied to curriculum standards. The Garden Coordinator promotes the LCSG mission with our partners, stakeholders and the general public. This is a full-time, 40 hour per week position with occasional evening and weekend hours.  We are seeking a kind, creative, energetic person who is passionate about real food, kids, plants, and soil.

Essential Functions:

  • Develop and facilitate garden-based lessons and activities for elementary and middle school children including cooking lessons, arts and crafts activities and lessons tied to curriculum standards
  • Recruit, coordinate and retain LCSG volunteers
  • Integrate garden-based curricula into existing educational settings
  • Create and share garden resources for teachers, children and garden volunteers such as planting guides, lesson plans and volunteer training resources
  • Promote LCSG through marketing, social media, community outreach, teacher and parent engagement
  • Coordinate LCSG events such as fundraisers, volunteer appreciation events, harvest festivals, produce sales, after-school garden clubs, community outreach and others
  • Participate in program evaluation and research
  • Collect and maintain data on volunteer and student participation and other metrics
  • Participate in fundraising and grant writing to support the on-going work of LCSG
  • Perform garden maintenance tasks—watering, weeding, mulching, soil and compost, cleaning and organizing garden classrooms, sheds and outdoor spaces
  • Maintain a working knowledge of significant developments and trends in the school garden field


  • High School diploma
  • Bachelor’s degree in relevant field preferred
  • 2 years in environmental education or children’s program development, or equivalent experience and skills.
  • Demonstrated ability to develop successful outdoor education programs, and facilitate hands-on learning and dynamic programming for elementary through middle school children
  • Strong interpersonal skills, leadership and teamwork
  • Excellent writing and communication skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Experience with volunteer management
  • Event planning and coordination experience
  • Flexible, and ability to thrive in a fast-paced, sometimes unpredictable setting
  • Proficiency with computers and basic software programs including google drive, Microsoft office
  • Experience working with diverse populations and across disciplines (parents, teachers, school garden staff, community members, students)
  • The ability to lift 25 lbs, operate garden tools (shovels, wheelbarrows, etc.), assist in construction (retaining walls, garden beds, trellises, sheds, etc.)
  • Willingness to work in an outdoor environment in a variety of weather conditions
  • Driver’s license and willingness to drive LCSG vehicles

Compensation: $12/hr.

Position is open until filled.

To apply for the position, please email a cover letter and resume to Ian Thompson, Executive Director for Lower Columbia School Gardens at

If you have questions, please contact Lauren Henricksen, or 360-414-5599 ext. 6434.

Download PDF:  Garden Coordinator Job Description