Japanese students travel 5,700 miles to volunteer in Pickering Garden
August 7, 2012
By Katie Larsen
The Pickering Garden had some unique visitors July 27, more than 20 students from Okinawa, Japan.
The students are part of a summer homestay program through Cultural Homestay International. They will spend one month with host families exploring the Puget Sound area. On their third day, they volunteered at the Pickering Garden with Falaah Jones, garden coordinator from Seattle Tilth. It was the students’ first visit to the United States.
Risa Kamiya and Showei Mori said they like the forest, trees and mountains covered with snow, something they have never seen before. Host families have one or two students in their home at a time.
“Everyone learns,” tour coordinator Cathy Kramer said. “It’s a great opportunity.”
The Japanese students didn’t know each other before the trip but Kramer said they made friends very quickly. Each day, the students have three-hour classes to learn about English and culture.
“Their reason to come is to experience American culture and further their English speaking skills,” Kramer said.
The students were also put to work pulling weeds in the garden.
The city of Issaquah’s Office of Sustainability owns the garden at 1730 10th Ave. N.W. All edible items from the garden are donated to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.
“People are amazed we are growing food for the food bank,” Jones said.
Last year, the garden produced more than 1,300 pounds of food, according to Micah Bonkowski, resource conservation coordinator from the city Office of Sustainability. It covers six-tenths of an acre with 1,200 square feet in vegetable production.
The purpose for the garden, other than donating food, is “used as a demonstration garden to teach how to grow organically,” Jones said. Not only are pesticides not used, but the garden is also built to conserve water.
“We will leave a lot of things up past their prime for food for the wildlife,” Jones said.
The students also plan to visit Bastyr University, Seattle and Mount Rainier during their stay.