For our November edition of Friends in Focus, let’s get to know our volunteer and community member Chantal!
Any background information or bio that you’d like to share. (Where are you from? What do you do for work? Any family/pet details you want to share? What are your favorite hobbies?)
I’m originally from Colorado, but have lived in France, Australia and Pennsylvania. I studied biology and I spent the first 14 years of my career in HLA labs (supporting kidney and BM transplant programs). I moved to Bellingham in August 2017 to be closer to my sister and have been amazed at how much this area feels like home. I love being out in nature… hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, snowshoeing, snowboarding, hammocking, gardening. I’m a science nerd who’s passionate about doing what I can to try and minimize my footprint.
How long have you been gardening?
I started gardening in 2009 when I lived in PA, focusing entirely on flowers. I was rather intimidated by the idea of growing food. But I attempted my first veggies in summer 2020, when we moved to a place that had a raised bed we could use. The joy of eating what I had grown (my first cherry tomato right off the vine) hooked me instantly! And I’ve loved all the benefits of dirt therapy.
What have been some of your biggest challenges in the garden?
Finding the time. I really enjoy getting out in the garden, but sometimes life gets busy and it can be challenging to carve out the time needed to take care of garden stuff. And not so much since I moved to the PNW… but the hot, muggy summers in PA were a challenge.
What do you find most rewarding about your involvement with the Chuckanut Center?
Being part of the wonderful community of gardeners and helping grow food for the food bank.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who has very little experience growing their own food?
Keep trying, don’t get discouraged if things don’t grow as you want, and celebrate when they do.
Any favorite resources?
One of my favorite resources for gardening is the Chuckanut Center. The Weed and Feed work parties are a great, hands on, way to learn. And the wealth of knowledge that the experienced gardeners bring is fantastic. I recently signed up for the WSU Growing Groceries Education Series, which I’m pretty excited about.
Lastly, what is your favorite thing to plant (or favorite garden task) in the fall?
My favorite thing to plant in the fall is garlic!