New Start Community Garden aka Shark Garden Annual Report 2018

New Start Community Garden aka Shark Garden 2018 Annual Report          

Vision: We envision a garden park where everyone can come to learn, grow, and contribute to building food security, science education, and community.

Motto: Share what you know and share what you grow!

History:  We are in our fourth year of garden development at New Start High School and since it all began in 2015, we have made great progress! We are now an official nonprofit under the fiscal sponsorship of the Weed Warriors organization. Our 1.6 acre site is one third school garden and two thirds community garden space. We have a community p-patch garden program up and running and we continue to support our summer work and learn program for at risk youth. We donate produce to local food banks and help build other partnerships with our community.

2018 Achievements:

The Shark Garden grew by leaps and bounds in 2018!  Large scale planting projects added over 300 new plants, bushes, and trees. All 60 of our garden plots were put to good use growing fresh produce and flowers for the community. Volunteers and students spent over 4,400 hours in the garden with a value of $132,656. Donation of plants and materials to the garden reached an all time high of $15,876.84 and cash donations were $940.  A grant for $10,000 from the Port of Seattle helped us expand our positive impact on the environment and the community. The value of carbon sequestration from our new trees alone is $90,440.00 (according to the Port of Seattle’s tree calculator). Our new pollinator beds are a sight to see in summer, bursting with colorful flowers.

We donated 1,937 pounds of fresh produce to the White Center Food Bank and another 700 to students, volunteers, and neighbors. Our summer program students improved their attendance, earned an income and math credit, and learned about nutrition and gardening. They also learned about community by volunteering at the food bank. New friends and donors expanded our reach into our community, as well.

Summer Garden Program Highlights:

The Shark Garden has been a host site for the Earn and Learn Summer Program, an employment/education experience open to youth in the Highline School District enrolled in the Avanza Program (a year-around high school re-engagement/employment-training program), since 2015. Youth in the summer program have the opportunity to participate in a meaningful paid employment experience and earn high school credit. The 2018 program was a collaboration between King County Employment and Education Resources (EER), New Start High School, King County Superior Court, Community Volunteers, and Neighborhood House.

The program goals include:  preventing court involvement, interrupting the school to prison pipeline, and preventing gang involvement by providing: high school re-engagement support, employment experience and training, intensive case management support, a positive/healthy/safe environment during summer vacation, and setting the foundational working relationship between case manager and youth so that case management efforts make a greater positive impact on post-summer school/employment goals. The Shark Garden is used as part of the classroom and a place to work on garden construction projects.  Students also go on fieldtrips to other gardens and sites and volunteer with the White Center Food Bank.

Our summer program participants are 14-21 years old and are primarily Latino/Latina, low-income, justice involved, past justice involvement, or at-risk of justice involvement students of the Highline School District (White Center, Burien, SeaTac, Des Moines). They are at risk of not completing high school. This season our students were 91% female. They identified as 7% Native American, 13% Pacific Islander, 7% Arab, 20% African American, and 53% Hispanic. We had a total of 15 students enrolled, in 2018.

This year 100% of the students completed the program and received a geometry math credit while earning $11 per hour for their work in the garden. They completed a total of 1,702 hours of employment. Students also learned science and skills related to the garden. There were no serious incidents during the 6 week program and student attendance was 79% compared to their average high school attendance of 30%.

More Engagement Through Food!

Part of the goal of the Shark Garden is to help with food insecurity and with support from King County Juvenile Court Services – Community Programs Unit and New Start High School’s Community Garden’s ACE Port Grant, we now provide our summer students with popular, culturally relevant, nutritious, and high quality lunch food from community vendors and Fare Start. Youth now remain on-site for lunch, greatly reducing their opportunity to make negative choices that can interfere with successful program completion. This helped boost our attendance this year and we received great feedback from the students about the new lunch program. Previously we had problems with students returning late from lunch, not returning to work after lunch, and returning from lunch under the influence, so the on-site lunch program was a great success.  This confirms our belief that healthy food has a great influence on everyone!

Check out some of the quotes from the students! Most Valuable or important thing you learned?:  “Don’t be lazy”, “To have patience with people, using tools, and plants”, “Working in the community brings friends and meet new people”, “To interact with others”, “How to harvest and plant things”, “Math.” *

*Quotes and stats for this section were taken directly from the summer program summary report.  If you’d like to support this program in the 2019 season, let us know! There are many ways you can help.

Thank You to our Donors & Partners!

We want to take a few moments to thank our generous donors and partners. We’d like to recognize the continued support of our returning donors. McKinstry Construction continues to donate building supplies for raised beds and other projects. The Burien Parks Department brought us wood chips for our paths and mulch. Our friends at Burien Bark donated leaf mulch. Burien Press continues to donate their coffee grounds to us.  Troy at Restoring Eden Nursery, in SeaTac, worked with us to add to our edible landscaping and blueberry patch.  Dwayne’s Produce donated a bunch of vegetable starts to us, and, of course, our board members have all donated time and resources to grow the garden.  A $10K grant from the Port of Seattle helped us add the pollinator beds, feed our summer program students, and buy other materials for the garden. The summer program lunches were so popular that attendance was increased by 49% over the regular school year. Materials donations for the year were valued at over $15,000 and consisted of many new plants, soil, and construction materials. A big thank you to Curtis, a former board member, for his fundraiser that added $700 to our year!

We have new donors to thank who brought both new ideas and new plants and materials to the garden this year. Through our fig forest project, we met Ben, Chris, Ram, and Jerry who donated plants to the garden. Our Volunteer of the Year, Juan, also donated materials for construction of a new entry arbor and helped to install it. Davey Tree Service donated several large loads of wood chips to us for mulch and pathways.

Our partnerships with the White Center Food Bank, the King Conservation District, the Environmental Science Center, the Kiwanis Club, King County, the Port of Seattle, the Boy Scouts of America, and of course our fiscal sponsors, the Weed Warriors, have all contributed to our ongoing growth and success. We look forward to growing new relationships within our local urban agriculture community!

Special Projects Completed in 2018

Food Pantry Continues to Serve Students

This year our growing partnership with the White Center Food Bank led to the continuation of the new food pantry on the campus of New Start High School. The pantry helps support students that might be in food insecure circumstances. We hope to increase our coordination with this pantry to incorporate more fresh produce from the Shark Garden, as well. Summer program students already enjoy the fresh fruit and veggies from the garden, but we would like the whole student body to become more familiar with what is out in the garden for them.

New Pollinator Beds Are Attractive to All!

In 2018, we undertook a massive project to plant a large “pollinator pathway” in the garden. The pollinator beds not only improve our curb appeal, but provide much needed habitat and food for native bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects in our neighborhood. These insects help with pollinating our crops and controlling other “pest” insects, in the garden.  The area we planted runs along the whole southern border of the garden, next to the parking lot.

Over one hundred perennials, shrubs, and trees were added to these beds, including many with edible flowers, berries, and fruit. Many of the over 40 varieties of plants were cultivated and or donated by our volunteers. Since the beginning of the project, an amazing 9 new varieties of native bees and wasps have been seen in the garden and 4 kinds of bumblebees! Local honey bees also visit the flowers throughout the garden. We believe that our pollinator bed is the largest purpose-built bed of its kind in our area and can serve as a demonstration garden for the whole Seattle area. The plants selected are all drought tolerant and low maintenance as well, providing even more valuable examples for local gardeners.

The pollinator beds BEFORE and AFTER the 2018 planting project. Wow, what a difference!

Number of new trees = 97 Most of these trees bear fruit or berries! We love to demonstrate edible landscaping! The other trees we planted this year are evergreen trees for year-round interest and structure in the garden or trees that provide flowers and habitat for pollinators.  Our effort to include fruits familiar to our Asian community members led us to add the goji berries, persimmons, and jujubes.  In the future, we would like to add more culturally significant plants to relate to our Latino community, as well, (in addition to the vegetable crops such as tomatillos, peppers, cilantro, and tomatoes that we currently grow).

Number of new shrubs = 128  We planted a whopping 128 new shrubs and bushes in 2018! The are nearly all edible landscaping plants with tasty fruit or berries that both birds and gardeners can enjoy. Others went into our pollinator pathway beds to attract native bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects with their lovely flowers. Some, like the weigela and the salvias, also help feed our friendly resident hummingbirds.  Many of the bushes will be in our Native Plant Garden, like the evergreen huckleberries and blue elderberries. Our new berry patch is home to many of the new bushes, including blueberries and gooseberries.  Island beds of black, red, and white currants can be found along the edge of the pollinator beds too.

Number of new perennials = 100+ We planted well over 100 perennial plants in our pollinator pathway and entry beds. Most were just in four inch pots at the start of the season, made from cuttings by volunteers. A few more one gallon size perennials were mixed in and by the end of the season the front of the garden was a riot of color. There are at least 33 species of perennials in the pollinator beds and more than 40 varieties, since we have multiple colors of some things.  The perennials were selected to be drought tolerant, low maintenance, and multipurpose in the garden. We will add an alphabetical list of pollinator plant perennials to our website soon. Many neighbors have stopped to comment on how the colorful front border has brightened up the neighborhood and become a regular part of their walking routes.

New Fig Forest Fosters New Friends

We started the 2018 season with three fig trees in the Shark Garden. We ended the year with close to twenty varieties! A couple of our board members love figs and dreamt of having a public fig forest in the garden. After connecting with local fig expert and YouTube fig star, Ben Nguyen, we met with local fig collectors and received multiple fig tree donations. In the fall, we planted 12 of those trees in a small fig forest with the help of volunteers.  An additional 5 varieties will go into the garden nearby, in 2019. We look forward to hosting the local “Fig Addiction” Facebook group in the Shark Garden, in the years to come, and thank them greatly for their support. Special thanks to Ben, Chris Thomas, Jerry Hofmeister, and Ram Viswanathan for their plant donations!

Our current fig varieties include: Desert King, Stella Cordi, a “Mystery Dwarf”, Negronne, Neverella, Olympian, Chicago Hardy, Excell, Atreano, Ben’s Unknown, Ronde de Bordeaux, Gillette, Ventura Strawberry, and Pelle De Beu, UW Marseilles, Black Spanish, Little Ruby, Petit Negri, Peter’s Honey, and Adriatic.

Visit Ben’s blog site here:

Berry Interesting Additions

We followed through with our plans to add another berry patch to the community garden area for our p-patch gardeners to enjoy. Using all donated materials and plants, we created a large berry garden area along the main gate entrance road. It includes multiple kinds of blueberries, two colors of raspberries, a weeping mulberry, a gooseberry, goji berries, thornless blackberries, thornless loganberries, and two kinds of jujube trees.  We still need to add some trellis supports to the raspberry and blackberry beds, but the project is otherwise ready for the new season.  Edging around the blueberry beds would also be a nice future addition. A special thanks goes out to the garden volunteers who helped plant the berry bushes during our September work party!

Number of new berries: (20 kinds) We added 20 kinds of berries to the garden, in 2018! We already had a few of them, like the raspberries that we transplanted to the new berry beds, but many others are new to the garden.  Most of the new berry bushes were donated by local gardeners and our board members. Some of the berry bushes are integrated into the pollinator beds and others are found in the new berry patch. A special thanks goes to Troy, at Restoring Eden Nursery, for helping us to build our blueberry garden through trades and partnership.

Looking Forward to 2019 and Beyond

We have lots of plans, hopes, and dreams for 2019 and beyond. New projects include: a native plant demonstration garden, educational signage, a fuzzy kiwi trellis, a native bee hotel, a covered area for volunteers, a mushroom garden patch, and a Dr. Seuss reading garden (more details on these ideas below).  We are considering applying for additional grants from the Port of Seattle and from the USDA to help fund our dreams. We will also keep being resourceful and finding new volunteers and donors along the way. We would like to form new partnerships and continue to build on our impressive success. Join us!

To Get Involved, Volunteer, or Donate, Contact us: or

Connect & Share: Like us on Facebook @theSharkGarden and find us on Pinterest @The Shark Garden

Here are some more details about our future plans and dreams: Starting with native plants!

Native Plants Garden

Our 2018 funding from the Port of Seattle Ace grant, helped us to purchase quite a few native plants to create another Native Plant Demonstration Garden in the northeastern corner of the community garden.  We selected plants with an emphasis on edible berries for everyone to enjoy and have already begun installing some of them.  We hope to continue the planting with volunteer help and add pathways, borders, and eventually signage to help explain the plants to visitors. Some of our favorite native plants in this area include evergreen huckleberries, service berries, and blue elderberries which the birds absolutely adore. The Native Plant Garden will not only provide some yummy snacks for us, but create important habitat for native birds and insects.

Native Plants, Left to right: Evergreen Huckleberries, Serviceberries, Blue Elderberries

We already have a native plant demonstration garden planted around our original rain garden and we look forward to adding this new area to expand not only our harvest, but our habitat in the neighborhood.

Educational Signs in the Garden

One of our next projects for the garden is to add educational and directional signage to the garden. We would like to seek funding and or donations to create signs that explain our pollinator garden, the rain gardens, our native plants and more. We also have a need for instructional signs that explain to the public about the garden, who can harvest from it, and how to get involved. We are in the research phase of this project and looking forward to finding partners to help us with it. We would like to include a welcome sign and bulletin board near the SW entrance that would make a great eagle project for another Boy Scout too.  We have already begun the process of adding metal labels to our fruit trees for future reference.

A welcome sign and bulletin board by the SE garden entrance would help people get to know the garden.

Ideally, our new signs would be multilingual, like this beautiful example from the Beacon Food Forest.

Fuzzy Kiwis Are Coming!

During the 2018 season, we acquired donations of materials to create a heavy duty arbor tunnel for some kiwi vines. An old wheelchair ramp and metal railings will form a 14 foot long arbor for several fuzzy kiwi vines. These kiwis require both male and female vines, so several are needed to get good pollination. Once mature, these vines can each produce up to 300+ pounds of fruit per year, so the arbor needs to be very strong. The fruit stores well, if refrigerated, so it could be a welcome infusion of highly nutritious fruit for students, local food banks, and gardeners throughout the winter.

Fuzzy kiwis produce fruit in the late fall which can be enjoyed all winter long. Did you know they have more vitamin C than an orange!? Our kiwi vines could eventually produce close to 700 pounds of fruit per year!

Covered Area for Volunteers?

We have received multiple requests for a covered area for gardeners and volunteers to use while in the garden to get a little shade or shelter from a passing shower. We are currently investigating the addition of a rain proof sail or tarp design to be attached to the side of the large storage container. We need to consider the strong winds that often cross the garden area and the best value for our budget.

Mushrooms! Fungus Among Us!

We are exploring the idea of adding a mushroom patch to the Shark Garden. We have two mushroom expert friends of the garden who are helping us to research how we might set up an educational demonstration bed (or two) to illustrate the interesting and important lives of fungi and soil health.  The mushrooms we are considering are oyster mushrooms and wine cap mushrooms that can be grown outdoors in our area, in straw and woodchips, which we already have lots of.  We want to thank Wayne Sykes and Chris Thomas for their ongoing support of this project.

Left: Wine Cap Mushrooms (Stropharia rugosoannulata) and Right: Oyster Mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Native Bee Hotel

Another project on our list is to create more nesting habitat for our native bees. We would like to create a native bee “hotel” and signage explaining more about the improtance of pollinators in the garden. This could also be a great Scout project.

Dr Seuss Garden?

When we did our initial community survey to see what people wanted in the garden, a children’s garden was high on the list. We are considering a proposal to install a reading garden inspired by Dr. Seuss. It would have whimsical trees and shrubs and plenty of places for people to sit and read. Bright colors to inspire the imagination would fill out the design. The proposed area is near the large gate on the southern side of the garden between the pollinator beds and the p-patch gardens.  Stay tuned for updates!

Garden Gallery for 2018


Student Volunteers from Madison Middle School & The Edible Flower Garden & Rain Garden #2

Some of the beautiful p-patch gardens and the very popular “Triple Crown” Thornless blackberries.

The hummingbird garden that we planted last year is all filled in and providing food for both hummers and bees!

Boy Scouts working on preparing water lines for our pollinator beds and volunteers planting fig trees.

Our first successful pumpkin patch! We grew sugar pumpkins for cooking and spaghetti squash in this bed.

Summer squashes and tomatoes ready to be brought to the White Center Food Bank for donations.

Volunteers harvesting purple potatoes and our mascot with some Roma tomatoes grown for the food bank.

New fruit and berries in the garden in 2018!

In 2018, we added some Asian delicacies to the garden: jujubes, persimmons, and goji berries. Burien has a large Asian population and we hope that some of these familiar fruits will help make them feel at home in the garden. Both the jujubes and the persimmons require two trees to pollinate each other, so they are planted in pairs. The persimmons are up by the pollinator beds in an island bed and the jujubes are at the northern end of the new berry patch. The goji berries are in the new berry patch and in the school garden area near the blackberries.

More new berries! We added three colors of currants, a “strawberry tree” (Arbutus unedo), and aronia “Viking” berry bushes. All have edible fruit that are highly nutritious and rich in antioxidants. The birds love them too!

Left to right: Pineapple Guava fruit, Weeping Mulberry & Robin, and our new watering bags for the orchard.

We added three pineapple guava bushes (Feijoa sellowiana), which have edible flowers and fruit, a weeping mulberry tree, and finally we invested in some watering bags for our fruit tree orchard along the northern side of the garden. The pineapple guavas will take a while to fruit, but they will provide evergreen foliage in our pollinator bed in the meantime. The weeping mulberry tree is in the new berry patch as a center circle bed.