It all began with a vision God placed in the hearts of Mike Stanley and his wife, Carol, (shown left) back in 1976. While life’s demands eventually altered that original vision, a new one soon began, sculpted by the experience of caring for elderly parents and seeing the challenges many senior citizens faced in their Federal Way community. Mike’s inner voice heard God encouraging him to develop an organic garden in Federal Way that would provide produce to low-income seniors, particularly the residents of the senior housing apartments (SHAG) and clients of the Meals-on-Wheels program. All these factors came together in the summer of 2008 to create the Federal Way Community Gardens.
Mike and Carol developed their garden based on a version of English potager (or kitchen) gardens they saw when visiting one of Rosemary Verey’s gardens in England. Mike created a line drawing and a three-page operating plan, then set about finding a location and financial support. In August, 2008, he received approval from the Federal Way Senior Center Board of Directors to build a 10,000 square foot garden on the grassy area next to their parking lot. Raising the necessary financial and volunteer support from the community began immediately and came from many Federal Way sectors; of particular note was Teri Hickel of the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce, who grabbed onto the vision and provided contact with many community leaders.
On September 6, 2008, Chris Brown of Lloyd Enterprises brought in heavy equipment, and ground was broke on the Senior Center Community Garden. With the help of hundreds of volunteers, the first planting in the garden’s raised beds began on March 27, 2009, and produce from the first harvest was delivered to the SHAG apartments on May 13! The first delivery to Meals-on-Wheels clients began just five weeks later.
At the Senior Center Community Garden dedication on May 1, 2009, then-Mayor Jack Dovey spoke of his vision to create more gardens throughout the Federal Way community. Mike was also contacted by Federal Way school teachers and parents who were interested in building and operating gardens on their property. As all this interest and commitment to build gardens came together, a management structure for the gardens was developed, a 501(c)3 corporation was formed, and the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation was officially formed.
The gardens continue to grow and evolve! Mike and Carol’s hearts for special needs students--and Carol’s love for teaching and training others in brain-friendly techniques--led to her designing a sensory therapy section at the Truman High School Community Garden for local students with special needs. Additionally, we now involve veterans in the gardens as part of their recovery therapy.
Through the ongoing efforts of many, the Federal Way Community Gardens Foundation continues to serve individuals and families, all the while helping them experience the tenets of our Mission Statement: Grow, Teach, and Give.
Our Core Values
Welcoming: The beauty of vegetable gardens and the friendliness of the volunteers encourages fellowship and a place to wander and sit for a bit of peace.
Service: We give back to the community through our education, volunteerism and the distribution of our garden bounty.
Environmental impact: We grow organically (chemical free, drip water systems, composting, etc.) to make the gardening environment safe for all, minimizing damage to the planet and increasing the nutrient value of the soil for future harvests.
Passionate: We care deeply about the health of our community. Our beautiful gardens provide those underserved with organic fruits and vegetables, education and programs, and opportunities for everyone to learn, grow, and give back.
Community: We help build our community by networking with other organizations, providing educational programs for the public, and nurturing community spirit by creating healthy, productive and strategically located gardens throughout the community.
Our Board of Directors
Jennifer Dovey, Treasurer
Joyce Hulse, Secretary
Cynthia Kannenberg, ActingPresident
Michael Stanley, Executive Director
Our mission is to grow, teach and give to the community by building a city of beautiful, productive gardens.