Gardeners grow community spirit in pea patches

August 30, 2011

Issaquah-area community gardens offer bounty, camaraderie

Summertime in the Mirrormont Pea Patch resembles a slice of Eden on Tiger Mountain.

Linda Jean Shepherd (above) points to some of the plants growing in a raised garden plot at the Mirrormont Pea Patch. By Greg Farrar

Pathways crisscross the ground among the lush leaves and verdant vines reaching out from bean, potato, tomato and dozens of other plants. Colorful blooms and delicate herbs greet guests at the garden gate.

“It’s about growing food, but it’s also about growing community,” Linda Jean Shepherd, a longtime Mirrormont resident and lead figure in establishing the pea patch, said on a stroll through the garden.

Some plots contain plants in neat rows. The plants in others bend and coil to Mother Nature’s whims.

“It’s so fun to see how people’s personalities are expressed in their gardens,” Shepherd said.

In Mirrormont and elsewhere in the Issaquah area, community gardens continue to sprout on empty lots and unused corners. The pea patches offer opportunities to grow produce, sure, but also a chance to grow community as neighbors join to dig and plant.

Gardeners from the pea patches often donate fresh, and often organic, produce to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank and other food pantries.

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Highlands Day to celebrate Swedish/Issaquah

July 5, 2011

On its 10th anniversary, the Issaquah Highlands Council will host its annual Highlands Day on July 9, in conjunction with the grand opening celebration of Issaquah’s new Swedish Medical Center campus.

“This year will be the biggest Highlands Day ever,” said, Christy Garrard special events planner for the council. “We’re expecting over 10,000 people during the seven-hour event.”

This year, Highlands Day will carry a healthy living theme and will take place on the site of the new hospital.

More than 50 booths will represent sports, fitness and nutrition experts, local businesses and local nonprofit agencies. The booths will offer free carnival games and crafts, free samples and free answers to fitness and sports-related questions.

“Over 20 booths are just fitness professionals and nutrition experts.” Garrard said.

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Landscaping goats return to munch across highlands

July 5, 2011

The ruminants returned on June 24.

In a summertime tradition for Issaquah Highlands residents, a goat herd started chomping across open space in the Wisteria Park neighborhood. Onlookers can also catch a glimpse of the goats from Davis Loop.

Then, a few days later, the action is due to shift west, to open space tracts near South Pond, just east of Central Park. Plans call for another herd of landscaping goats to arrive July 6.

The goats, a cheaper and more eco-conscious option than traditional clearing, eat tall grasses and invasive plant species.

Issaquah Highlands Community Association leaders reminded residents and onlookers not to feed the goats.

The practice started in July 2009, as goats from Edwall and Vashon Island arrived to nibble Himalayan blackberry and Scotch broom. In June 2010, more than 100 goats chomped across the highlands landscape.

The goats also attracted the national spotlight. Comedian Stephen Colbert lampooned the goats as undocumented workers stealing jobs in a segment on “The Colbert Report” in October 2010.

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Windstorm fells three dozen Issaquah Highlands trees

November 2, 2010

Issaquah Highlands residents lost trees in a fall windstorm last week, prompting the city and Issaquah Highlands Community Association to consider replacements for the fallen trees.

Residents said the Oct. 25 windstorm felled or damaged about three dozen street trees along 24th Avenue Northeast near Northeast Park Drive.

The city and community association plan to select a replacement species better suited to high winds.

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Comedy Central features Issaquah Highlands’ unemployment ‘scapegoats’

October 19, 2010

Funnyman Stephen Colbert shined a spotlight on the Issaquah Highlands last week for a serious message about unemployment.

Colbert sounded the alarm about illegal helpers — scapegoats — “gobbling up our jobs” and causing unemployment to rise.

Scapegoats? No, actual goats.

Stephen Colbert, host of the cable news spoof ‘The Colbert Report,’ gestures at the end of a segment about landscaping goats in the Issaquah Highlands. Contributed

So, the goats hired to landscape the highlands trotted into the national spotlight. The piece — a “People Who Are Destroying America” segment for the Oct. 14 episode of “The Colbert Report” — highlighted the Issaquah neighborhood and Rent-A-Ruminant.

In September, a Comedy Central crew filmed a segment on the living lawnmowers. The crew also interviewed Russ Ayers, Issaquah Highlands Community Association landscape manager, for the piece.

“I had no idea what they were going to do with it,” he said.

The crew asked the highlands landscaping team to appear in the segment, but Ayers said the group decided to pass. Instead, Comedy Central turned to a Tukwila business, New Beginning Garden & Lawn Care, to portray landscapers edged out of business by hungry goats.

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Issaquah Highlands goats featured on ‘The Colbert Report’

October 14, 2010

NEW — 6 p.m. Oct. 14, 2010

The goats hired to landscape the Issaquah Highlands trot into the national spotlight in a segment on “The Colbert Report.”

The piece is scheduled to air as part of the satirical show at 8:30 p.m. Thursday on Comedy Central. Watch the clip here.

In September, a Comedy Central crew filmed a segment on the living lawnmowers. The crew also interviewed Russ Ayers, Issaquah Highlands Community Association landscape manager, for the piece.

The goats returned to highlands hillsides in June. The goats — more than 120 from Rent-A-Ruminant on Vashon Island — chomped through tall grass and invasive plants for several weeks.

Rent-A-Ruminant also provided goats to landscape the highlands last summer. The goats gained some notoriety as the ruminants in PEMCO Insurance’s “Goat Renter Guy” spot.

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Highlands residents seek another dog park

September 7, 2010

The only off-leash dog park in Issaquah could be joined by another off-leash park, if Issaquah Highlands residents succeed in a grassroots effort.

Kandis Paden, a highlands resident and business owner in the community, spearheaded the drive through the highlands homeowners association. Paden and other members of the neighborhood Pets-n-Pals Committee aim to turn a slice of city land near Central Park into a dog park.

“We’ve been asking for this to happen for a long time,” she said. Read more

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Goats return to the Issaquah Highlands

June 15, 2010

Residents of the Issaquah Highlands welcomed herds of goats into their backyards last weekend.

On June 11, 120 goats were rented and brought to the highlands to eat a half-acre field of weeds by 28th Avenue and Julep Street. The goats came in for the second year in a row as an alternative weeding method to using human labor.

“The first time we brought the goats in, it was very successful,” said Russ Ayers, Issaquah Highlands Community Association landscape manager. “It is much better than using people. Hiring man-labor costs around $35,000 and the goats cost about a quarter of that.”

Along with costs, using goats as an alternative to standard weeding methods helps reduce the carbon footprint of the highlands community.

“This whole thing was really about going green. This whole community is about going green,” Ayers said.

The goats arrived via trailer from Rent-A-Ruminant, located on Vashon Island, where they reside in winter.

As soon as the trailer’s doors opened, the crowd gathered around cheered as the goats poured out and made their way to the field to begin munching away.

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Help wrangle goats in the highlands Saturday

June 11, 2010

NEW — 2:05 p.m. June 11, 2010

Herders will unload goats in the Issaquah Highlands on Saturday morning, and the homeowners association needs volunteer wranglers to guide the rented ruminants from the trailer to the forage area.

The goats will be unloaded at about 11 a.m. Saturday near 28th Avenue Northeast and Northeast Julep Street, and then start munching invasive plants and unruly grasses. Temporary fences will separate wranglers and ruminants during the brief jaunt. No, the goats don’t bite.

Contact Russ Ayers, Issaquah Highlands Community Association landscape manager, at, to learn more.

On the heels — or hooves, rather — of a successful goat landscaping effort last summer, the association rented ruminant landscapers again. Herds from Vashon Island and Eastern Washington chomped across highlands hillsides last summer.

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Night of nibbles yields nearly $2,000 for food bank

December 8, 2009

The event attracted about 60 people to Blakely Hall for appetizers and wine. Photo by Dianne Brisbine

The event attracted about 60 people to Blakely Hall for appetizers and wine. Photo by Dianne Brisbine

A foodie fundraiser pulled in almost 600 pounds of food and $2,000 for the Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank last month.

Corks & Forks, organized by the Issaquah Highlands Wine and Cooking Club, brought together 63 attendees Nov. 13 for high-end nibbles, wine and a good cause. More than a dozen local businesses donated to the event.

Organizer Jen Jedda and her team staged the event after a successful Corks & Forks fundraiser held last year, when attendees raised $1,200 and donated more than 300 pounds of food to stock food bank shelves. Jedda said she believed the event could help the food pantry as the holiday season began and demand for donations climbs.

“We were overwhelmed at the amount in [monetary] donations and food contributions for the food bank we collected, as we didn’t know what to expect going into the evening” during the first event, Jedda wrote in an e-mail. “After the event, we received multiple requests to do it again.” Read more

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