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Good will grows in community gardens

Taylor “Mac” Black stands among the rhubarb and herbs in his second home, the garden next to his house. Black hopes to build similar gardens throughout the community. - Photo by Summer Watterson
Taylor “Mac” Black stands among the rhubarb and herbs in his second home, the garden next to his house. Black hopes to build similar gardens throughout the community.
— image credit: Photo by Summer Watterson

Taylor “Mac” Black became interested in gardening and agriculture when he was 12, and nothing has changed since he moved to Bremerton a year ago.

“I spend a lot of my time outside just watching things grow,” Black said.

Black, a sustainable resource science major at the University of Washington, is in the preliminary stages of trying to start a community gardens program in Bremerton. He said the town is well-suited to community gardening because there are a lot of open spaces and people who are interested in trying something new.

“It’s my way of trying to provide the opportunity that’s so important to me to other people,” Black said.

Black thinks gardens will help Bremerton because they turn unused space, such as abandoned parking lots, into places where people can enjoy spending time. They also give people a way to work out the inevitable conflicts of living close to one another, he added.

“You can all agree there’s a common goal. There are just different paths to get there,” Black said.

Currently Black is developing a list of people interested in the revitalization of Bremerton through gardening. He has also been looking at the few community gardens Bremerton already has such as Blueberry Park on Sylvan Way and pea patches in the West Park and Anderson Cove neighborhoods.

Black said he is interested in creating a garden at Naval Elementary School for the parents and grandparents of children who attend there. He has also been talking to school officials about a garden education program for the children. Black said he would like to see a garden in the maritime park that Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman has planned.

“I’m working on all fronts right now,” Black said.

Black began gardening in his hometown of Corvallis, Ore. when he and his best friend dug up some potatoes in an abandoned patch of land. He said they got some seeds and began to plant them.

“We had little idea what we were doing,” Black said. “It was generally a place where we had so much fun.”

Now the garden at Black’s Bremerton home is full of organically grown strawberries, potatoes, broccoli, various squash, onions and many other vegetables and fruits.

Black also does observation experiments in his garden, such as trying to grow certain plants close together to lessen the number of weeds he has to pull.

“I try something and see what happens,” Black said. “It’s not scientific per se.”

Black originally came up with the idea for community gardens in Bremerton when he heard about the proposed Qwest cell phone tower on Sixth Street. Black said he called Qwest and suggested they give a grant to the community to start a garden near the tower, but because Qwest is only leasing enough space for the tower they told him it wasn’t possible. Black said that situation got him thinking of other possibilities.

For more information or to volunteer to help Black start more community gardens in Bremerton e-mail him at macblack@u.washington.edu.

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