Creating An Edible Oasis

Terry Myer, one of our 2016 Conservation Leaders of the Year, transformed her backyard into an edible, sustainable paradise where she welcomes neighbors and community members to learn first hand how to do the same in their yards. Even the neighborhood cats flock to her yard, as she has a tire planter dedicated to growing catnip. Touring her yard is a treat as produce, ingenuity, and passion abound as Terry walks you through the transformation process. She stops often to remind that it is all about creating something manageable and that it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. What is most important is to just get going and start small. 

When Terry and her husband, Joel Bockovich, purchased their home in 2014 they were inspired to grow some veggies, but their home had been abandoned and vacant for several years before they purchased it- so it was going to take a little extra work to get it ready. The grass was about six feet tall, but after renting a field mower, they discovered four small apple trees and a couple of brick garden areas. 

They started small with just a couple of small garden boxes, compost from a neighbor’s horse ranch, and a pack of heirloom seeds from Costco but that didn’t last long. After attending their first Lawns to Lettuce workshop in July of 2015, she told her husband, ‘‘you know that we’re expanding the garden now, right,’’ and Joel responded ‘’yup, I totally figured.’’ 

They got to work building more raised beds and gathering other materials to supplement and expand the garden, mainly through neighbors and their local Buy Nothing Group. They were able to mulch the pathways of their garden using wood chips from Chip Drop- a website that helps connect arborists and gardeners.

After one full year of production, their hard work paid off. Terry was able to donate over 2,000 pounds of produce to the Lake Stevens Food Bank, as well as lots of sharing with neighbors and many meals featuring produce from their own yard.

Terry’s latest project is spearheading the new Eagle Ridge Community Garden in Lake Stevens to ensure greater access to gardening for all community members.

In addition to being a local food advocate and mentor, Terry is a founding member of the Lake Stevens Being Neighborly Group, which provides opportunities for community members to help one another, offer acts of kindness and work collectively to make the city an “it takes a village kind of place. “

“It’s like Christmas in the backyard, every few days there’s something new to receive.”

Why do you love gardening?

The emotional and physical health benefits are extraordinary! I love getting outside and enjoying the day, having the opportunity to unplug from the technological world, and that the food we’re eating we grew with our own hands. There’s also the family time with my teenager and husband, the community building with my neighbors, the animals that visit us for a cuddle as we toil away in the soil, and the experts I’ve met along the way. It’s great finding new recipes to play with as we harvest something new. There are constant moments of absolute joy. I feel silly when I get so excited to see something pop up from being a seed, but you should see me when I get to harvest yet another vegetable. It’s like Christmas in the backyard, every few days there’s something new to receive.

What was your proudest DIY garden project?

Watching the seeds I planted or the starts I was given produce food that I could harvest and prepare for my family. Our first vegetable garden was a team effort, one that we were all very excited about. From the wood we obtained at the hardware store, to the free compost from a friend’s horse ranch, to the weekend hours spent building our raised beds and planting the seeds, there were lots of hands involved. I was so proud of the bonding experience as we drew up the plans to build the beds, deciding which seeds to plant, watching them grow, and finally harvesting them all summer long. The entire process is highly nurturing.

By Kailyn Wentz, Design & Media Coordinator | From Volume 28: Issue 1 of The Nexus