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WVC reaching out to community with garden program

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Alison Detjens in the WVC greenhouse

There are some interesting things happening at Wenatchee Valley College these days that connect the school with the community. I sat down with Alison Detjens, who earlier this year became manager of the college's greenhouse and garden program and has been actively revamping programs that engage schools and community members.  

Detjen, who ran the gleaning program at the Community Farm Connection for a year and had worked for Gibbs Farms for four years prior to that, brings an entrepreneurial spirit to greenhouse and garden programs, which previously had relied heavily upon student initiatives. The programs never really developed.   

She's a passionate advocate for bringing the community and college together. A series of workshops that help local individuals learn the basics and fine points of gardening was launched this year. She's also working with Newbery Elementary and Foothills Middle School in developing a gardening program, with hopes of expanding to more schools in the area.  

The garden area on the WVC campus, which is located behind Batjer Hall, has been freshened up with raised beds. There's talk of planting grapes and also native plants to show local residents different ways that landscaping can be done to be more efficient with water. 

Detjens gave me a tour of the greenhouse and showed the hydroponic system that is in place to produce basil and other plants, as well as the aquaponics section, where fish waste becomes the food for plants.   

There have been fits and starts in the development of these programs, but that was before Detjens was hired. She's a passionate believer in helping people learn how to grow their own food and to support local organic farmers. The college has had a partnership with the Farmhouse Table for several years to help distribute food through a Community Supported Agriculture program, where individuals pay one price and receive weekly boxes of local produce.   

Wenatchee Valley College is one of the most important assets we have in North Central Washington. It's great to see more outreach happening with different programs so that the college feels like its connected to the community.   

If you'd like to see my video interview with Detjens, please log onto and click on videos.  

---------- In a column on Sunday about the Entiat Valley Community Services Food Bank facility, I erred in describing the medical program. Claudia Nilson, a nurse practitioner, was kind enough to point out that the Entiat Regional Health Clinic is a volunteer program that serves the Entiat Community twice a month.   

It is affiliated with Washington Healthcare Access Alliance of Free Health Clinics. May Segle of EVCS tells me they're taking applications for additional medical personnel and volunteers. 

Nilson, fellow nurse practitioner Fran Morgan and physician's assistant Dan Campbell serve patients from 6-8 p.m. on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays at the new Entiat Valley Community Services facility, which used to be a bakery.