Grow a Feast

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(Longer project! Must be completed within 4-6 months of application approval)

Help us feed WildCare patients and ambassador animals by growing fruits or veggies at home in garden beds or barrels (or in a class garden) and bringing them in for donation. Choose from a list of our patient’s favorite fruits and vegetables, and directly impact our patients by providing them with the nutritious foods that they need to heal and make their way back out into the wild. Have someone take pictures of you planting and caring for your garden, and answer some questions about your garden experience. Must be completed within 4-6 months of project approval, and we ask that the donation consists of at least two different kinds of produce. Can be a one-time donation or a reoccurring donation over a period of several weeks.

Project Steps and Guidelines

1. Choose at least two varieties of produce that WildCare patients love and that you are interested in growing (only one of the two can be listed as caring for an existing plant/tree). If you are hoping to grow something that is not listed, please note that on your application and we will let you know if we can make use of it.

Please note that not all plants grow well year round. Visit a local garden store to see what kids of plants are in season:

  • Apples (care for an existing tree)
  • Grapes
  • Radishes
  • Avocado (care for an existing tree)
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • Zucchini
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Corn on the cob
  • Persimmons (care for an existing tree)
  • Peaches (care for an existing tree)
  • Plums (care for an existing tree)
  • Beets
  • Melon (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, casaba, etc.)
  • Peas
  • Chicken eggs (if you are helping your family or class raise chickens)

2. Complete the WildCare Jr. Volunteer application, and send it into WildCare

3. Upon receiving official WildCare Volunteer Department approval, begin cultivating your garden! Below are some suggestions for beginning a garden:

A. Choosing your planting spot: Whether you are planting in garden barrels, planter boxes, or directly into ground, make sure that the spot that you choose has lots of sunlight and has easy access to water. Draw up a plan for your garden, thinking about what you are hoping to plant, and how much space each plant may need.

B. Soil: Having good soil is very important to growing a healthy garden! Once you have chosen your garden spot, existing soil may need to be tilled, or turned over and mixed around with a shovel. Remove any weeds or rocks, break up any hard clumps of earth, and add a little bit of water to the soil if it is dry. If you are planting into a garden bed or barrel, you may need to purchase and add soil from a local gardening store, like Sloat. If you are noticing earth worms while tilling the soil, leave them there! This can be a sign of really healthy soil!

C. Pick out your seeds/plants: Visit a local garden store, such as Sloat, and pick out your seeds or plant starts. Talk with someone that works there about where you are planning on gardening, what you are interested in growing, and ask for advice about how much water, space, and sunlight your plants might need. Remember that if you are going to be planting “starts”, or plants that have already started to grow, make sure to get them in the ground soon after bringing them home.

D. Plant your garden: Before putting your plants or seeds into the ground, make sure that the soil is moist (not wet), and begin by digging holes for your starts or seeds. Each variety of plant has an ideal planting depth, so reference the back of your seed packet or speak with your local garden store employee to find out how deep to dig your holes. Once you have dug your holes, carefully place your starts or seeds into the holes, and cover them up with soil. Firmly press down on the soil around your new plant or seed, and add some water to moisten the soil and give your new plant a good start! Be careful not to overwater, especially if you are planting from seed.

E. Maintain a Healthy Garden: Check on your plants at least every few days, removing any weeds that may pop up (but make sure that it is not a sprouting seed), and watering your plants if the soil is feeling dry. Be patient with your plants! Some plants grow more slowly than others, especially depending on climate and soil. Using compost is another great way to ensure healthy, nutrient rich soil, and please refrain from using commercial fertilizers or pesticides, especially if you are planting outdoors. Excess fertilizer can make its way into the local creeks, and can be harmful to local fresh and saltwater wildlife.

F. Harvest: When you are noticing that your produce is is ready to be harvested, carefully pick your fruits or veggies and gently give them a rinse with clean water,. Make sure that you are able to bring in to WildCare the produce that you have grown within a day or two so that our patients can enjoy your produce while it is fresh. If something in your garden is not growing, do not despair! Gardening, especially at first, can be tricky, and can sometimes take a few tries. If you have having trouble, seek advice from a seasoned gardener or ask at a local garden store.

G. Resources: Check your local library branch for a book on growing a garden, or there are can also be really helpful online resources as well. The Fairfax Library branch even has a Seed Library, for seed exchange. Here are a few recommended books that can be checked out at the library:

  • Backyard Vegetable Garden for Kids by Amie Jane Leavitt
  • How Does Your Garden Grow? by Clare Matthews
  • Organic Gardening for Kids by Elizabeth Scholl
  • Kid’s First Gardening by Jenny Hendy

4. Volunteers must complete the Project Wrap-Up Question Sheet

5. Contact Jessica at volunteer@wildcarebayarea.org to set up a time to bring in your yummy, fresh garden harvest. WildCare is located at: 76 Albert Park Lane in San Rafael.

6. Email the following to WildCare, (volunteer@wildcarebayarea.org)

  • A photo with you and your garden or produce. Please have your parent or guardian fill out and submit a photo permission form. If this is something that you or your parent/guardian are uncomfortable with, please let us know and your photo will not be posted onsite, on our website, in social media or in our printed newsletter.
  • Completed project verification sheet
  • Completed project follow up questions

(Jr. Volunteers must submit these materials in order to earn official WildCare recognition)