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Community spirit bring a bumper harvest at Grow Community

Posted to BioRegional Blog
September 26, 2014

Grow resident Ron Kaplan shares how self-sufficiency and community spirit have come together for a bumper harvest at Grow Community, as edibles sprout up in time for Local & Sustainable Food month.
Grow-gardens

Edibles in the new Bainbridge Island neighborhood are sprouting up in time for Local and Sustainable Food month, even amongst the native landscaping. On one footpath, tomatoes grow side by side with fronded ferns. “Only in the Northwest, huh?” says Ron Kaplan, a resident of the uber-green development now taking shape a short ferry ride across Puget Sound from downtown Seattle. Grow Community’s first neighborhood – dubbed the Village, one of three phases in a planned 8-acre project – was designed to reflect and promote sustainability at every turn. Rooftop solar provides much of the power for each home, while the residents share bicycles to reach merchants and services in nearby Winslow town center.

The One Planet Living principles so foundational to the project encourage the sharing of locally grown, organic food. So the signature stroke for both self-sufficiency and a communitarian spirit may be the neighborhood P-patch gardens that nestle amongst the close-knit, architecturally arresting homes. Autumn finds the first three designated gardens a veritable cornucopia overflowing with onions, pumpkins, spinach, peas, eggplant, kale, chard, exotic herbs and other delectables. Grapes and other vine fruits hang from trellises in the wings.

The neighborhood organized a community potluck in late August to celebrate the bounty — and the shared endeavor it represents. “There was a lot of good food, all based on vegetables from the gardens,” Kaplan says. “And it was another excuse for people to get together.” The gardeners are still finding a certain equilibrium between their own tastes and the collective palate. The recent harvest produced a surfeit of beans and squash, says Kaplan, confessing his own complicity in a bumper crop of fiery hot peppers. But any excess just gets carted up the street to Helpline House, the local food bank.

“It wasn’t the Soviet Union model of centralized planning,” Kaplan says. “One of the lessons is, next year there might be more coordination about what’s planted.” More raised beds are now going in next to a just-completed apartment building at the project’s north end, and new residents there will assume their own stewardship of the soil or fall into other neighborhood roles. At Grow Community, Kaplan says, everyone chips in according to their interests and abilities, but the harvest is open to all. “People contribute to the community in different ways,” he says. “I’m putting my time into the gardens, others are putting their time into something else. But they should all be able to harvest – so they do.”

ULI Tour: Cultivating a Sustainable Local Economy

Grow Community held center stage when the Urban Land Institute visited Bainbridge Island yesterday.

ULI members looked at Bainbridge as a prototype for “Cultivating a Sustainable Local Economy” — encouraging responsible growth, resource conservation, diversity and density while retaining the island’s rich cultural heritage.

The program also included stops at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and the Ericksen Cottages development, capped by a visit to Winslow’s Hitchcock restaurant.

The event was organized by ULI’s Thriving Communities Task Force, which studies arts communities, public amenities and leadership in sustainable development.

Thank you to the Urban Land Institute for recognizing Grow Community as a model of urban planning and sustainability!

ULI-GROW COMMUNITY

 

One Planet Lunch for Construction Team

Contractors in the Grow Community PHC Construction team were treated to a locally grown luncheon on the job site last week. All food for the noontime repast was grown on Bainbridge and North Kitsap farms. Local agriculture, sustainability and health are always on the menu at Grow!

Grow-PHC lunch

How Does Our Garden Grow?

Very nicely, thanks! And it’s only going to get better. The shared gardens at Grow Community promise a bounty for the table and a close-knit neighborhood to share its goodness.

Community gardens and “edible landscaping” — everything from blueberries to tree fruits, with tasty vegetables on the vine — are a key feature at Grow, and a big part of our “One Planet Living” ethos. We want to honor the land by fostering and enjoying its wholesome yield.

grow-gardens

Now as we approach the first harvest season of our completed Village neighborhood, our gardens are really coming into their own. Residents in our new homeowners association (whose ranks include a few master gardeners, wouldn’t you know) have the happy task of divvying up the delicious fare. You gotta love it when a new sign goes up in your neighborhood, and it says, “Pick Me.”

We’re also talking to Friends of the Farms, the local non-profit that manages and promotes Bainbridge Island’s public agricultural land. We’re discussing how that group may be able to manage our orchards and gardens for an even greater yield, creating an urban farm that produces sustainable, locally grown food in volume and forges stronger community connections.

And this is just in the Village in Phase 1. With Grow Community’s next neighborhood, the Grove, which has just broken ground, and the Park neighborhood to follow, our green development will get even greener (if that’s possible). Sixty percent of the new neighborhoods will be devoted to open space including more bountiful trees and gardens.

We call our community “Grow” for a reason.

 

Grow Community Ice Cream! It doesn’t get better than that.

Available at Mora Iced Creamery in Downtown Winslow, just a 5 minute walk from Grow Community.   For a limited time only.

Grow-Mora-Campaign-Poster

Click here to learn more about the “Mora Index.”

moraphotos

Backers see $60M Grow Community as prototype for going super green

Daily Journal of Commerce
May 20th, 2013

click here to read article

Model Home Pano-sm

Sustainable Business: Washington state’s largest solar community tests the marketplace

Puget Sound Business Journal
May 10th, 2013

click here to read article

psbjphoto

Grow Community Awarded Most Sustainable Business of the Year!

BI Chamber - Sustainable Business of the YearGrow Community/Asani were honored to receive the 2012 Sustainable Business of the Year award from the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce.   This is an award that was truly achieved due to the support and involvement of our greater Bainbridge Island community.  Thank you.

 

Happy Holidays, from the Grow Team!

We, the Grow Team would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season! As the days get colder and the holidays are upon us we would like to take a moment to reflect on the past year. In 2012 we opened our first three model homes to the community for tours and are now underway with construction of the next 20 homes and 20 rentals that will make up the first phase of Grow Community.  After the New Year the first residents will be moving in and calling Grow home. The Grow Team has been working behind the scenes on this project for over two years now and it is wonderful to finally see the community begin to come together.

With Grow Community, we presented the concept of One Planet living – a community that allows residents to reduce their ecological footprint while maintaining a happy and healthy lifestyles.  In a year where health, global climate and community wellbeing has risen to the top of our consciousness, we hope that our small project will provide an example of how we can all impact change in our communities.

We know we are incredibly lucky to be living and working on Bainbridge Island.  Our island is just the place where our dream of a healthy, safe, and intergenerational community can become a reality.  As Grow Community takes shape we continually strive to create a place that both fosters community and is also restorative to our earth. We are impassioned every day when we meet community members that share our vision and that are dedicated to improving the world around us.

We are thankful for our family, friends, neighbors, fellow co-workers and the community we live and work in.  We hope that you will continue to contribute and help us to build positive community on Bainbridge Island in whatever way inspires you.

From our family to yours we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

The Grow Team

 

 

The ‘Mora Index’ for growing a connected, freedom-loving kid


The following is part of our Five Minute Lifestyle series. Living at Grow Community makes getting out your car easy with all of your local amenities and transportation needs met within a quick 5 minute walk or bike ride away. Our Five Minute Lifestyle posts are dedicated to spotlighting nearby local businesses, transportation options for residents, community resources and the spectacular local attractions of Bainbridge Island and our surrounding community.

By our Health and Happiness Champion, Leslie Schneider

As a 12-year-old, I remember well the territory I was comfortable exploring on my bike with friends and siblings. We could ride on a dirt path from the residential road through an empty lot to the usually vacant parking lot behind Safeway. The empty lot had little hills that helped us hone our bike handling skills. And the Safeway store offered us refunds for empty bottles and plenty of ways to spend the new cash.

These days, as parents we put a lot of money and time into taking care of our kids. Different families make different choices, but the community we live in makes many choices for us too. During the week we drive our kids from one activity to another, and then on weekends we drive to big box stores to provision ourselves for the coming week. These rituals can be fun… come on, admit it, Costco has us nailed, offering free samples of prepared food sold in volume, cheap pizza or a cone at the checkout. But it is not a kid’s world. We don’t feel safe letting our children run around by themselves as we shop.

Going somewhere and buying something… that is what grown-ups do. So isn’t it the Holy Grail of freedom for a kid to be able to get somewhere by themselves and purchase something of high kid-value?  How many parents with school-aged children in your neighborhood would think it safe to send their kids to the grocery store alone? Architect Ross Chapin is an advocate of small scale communities. In his book “Pocket Neighborhoods”, Chapin describes what he calls the “Popsicle Index” – the percentage of people who think it is safe to let their kid walk to a store and buy a Popsicle without adult supervision.

On Bainbridge Island, we are lucky to have Mora’s Ice Cream, surely a part of many families’ ritual outings long before a kid has much independence. So. If you lived within walking distance from Mora’s in downtown Winslow, would you let your daughter walk there by herself to buy a treat?

To reach that Holy Grail safely, a child needs to start much earlier in life with smaller circles of independence, or safety zones that expand with the age and confidence of the child. A safe base creates independence. The Grow Community is designed so that no one ever crosses a street while inside the community. Courtyards between homes are the protected close-in zones, with opportunity to meet the neighbors as the first integration into the larger community. Living in this community, a child will graduate to playing alone at the community center, with helpful eyes watching out for the unexpected.  It takes a community to keep an independent child safe, to contribute to raising independent children.

When children graduate to the outer circles of the community, there are many options for walking and biking—to get to two nearby elementary schools, Ordway and Odyssey, the two Island middle schools, Sakai and Woodward, and the high schools, Bainbridge and Eagle Harbor. The library and a park is even closer. The Farmer’s Market is practically across the street. Hmmm.  Maybe this smaller world helps us stay out of our cars and gives our kids the autonomy they crave a little earlier!

Check out ‘5 Minute Neighborhood for Kids’ also written by Leslie Schneider

Leslie Schneider is a marketing and communications specialist with a history of building community. Leslie has worked with both start-ups and software giants offering messaging, marketing collateral, and training development. She is also a founding member and ‘graduate’ of cohousing, having developed and then lived in Jackson Place Cohousing (near downtown Seattle) for eight years. She served on the cohousing development LLC managing board for five years and was the owner’s representative for the 27-unit condominium construction. You can find her at Office Xpats, a co-working and conference center based on Bainbridge Island.