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<a href=" target=_blank"><img src=" border=0" alt="Photobucket"></a> Sustainable Gardening is a growing trend in East Pierce county.

Kelda Miller has a vision to teach people about sustainable gardening which is a growing trend as gardeners look for ways to enjoy more organic fruits and vegetables.

Kelda, a Puyallup native and Rogers High graduate, loved to grow and enjoy edibles, but lacked a garden plot of her own. She decided to think outside the box and found small plots of land to grow everything from fava beans to parsnips, kale, garlic, rhubarb, strawberries and more.

Kelda first became friends with an elderly neighbor who was willing to share a portion of her garden.

"Glenda is my good angel", Miller says, and she enjoys sharing with her neighbor what she grows.

When Kelda house sat for a Puyallup friend during a 6-month period, she planted vegetables in the homeowner's garden, then harvested and enjoyed them during her stay. She continues to share that garden, visiting regularly to water and tend to the space.

Miller then spotted a space behind Drainage Works, a Pioneer Street business, and approached the owner, Dan Villwock, about planting on his property. Villwock was agreeable to the arrangement and Kelda now tends to that plot, practicing organic gardening, using rye crop rotation method, to produce asparagus, broccoli and other delights.

When Kelda met Adama Blackthorn at the Puyallup Farmers' Market, they enjoyed a conversation around their mutual interest in organic gardening. Kelda bartered to provide computer help to Blackthorn in exchange for using a portion of his front yard to plant an herb garden. Kelda travels by bicycle between each of these sites, to water, weed and harvest.

"I have never known anyone else who can keep vegetables growing all winter long. Kelda's ability is amazing", Villwock said. "Sometimes when I get really busy here and can't sneak away for lunch, I go out back and grab some broccoli, and an apple or two from the tree."

Every week, all year long, including through the winter, Kelda can harvest a grocery bag full of produce. She uses the Salad Forage System to grow different varieties of edibles. The plants keep reseeding so the only work involved is transplanting. She boasts that part of her success in harvesting vegetables all through the year is that she has no trouble with some of the pests that can typically invade a vegetable garden.

"For example, I have no maggot problems with my carrots, so I harvest them 12 months of the year."

Kelda's method of gardening is catching on around the Puget Sound region there are organized groups teaching the technique in Seattle, Bainbridge Island and beyond. Kelda's hope is to share her knowledge, with a long-term goal of helping Puyallup-area families grow much of their own organic produce all throughout the year.

"I want to see a sustainable Puyallup. I'd especially love to help low-income families plant gardens and to empower people to tend the gardens, teach their children the techniques, and enjoy a year-round harvest of healthy food."

by Nancy Draper

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Page last modified on June 06, 2008, at 04:12 PM