As a volunteer at the garden since 2015, I have seen it expand and enjoy more community support each year. Built mostly with volunteer labor, the Gathering Garden is a testament to the potential of using grassroots resources for land stewardship. Several years before my involvement, volunteers took a badly degraded, abandoned industrial site and created the Gathering Garden on the edge of the North Idaho College (NIC) campus. Starting with a few garden plots, the area has grown into a beautiful oasis that is enjoyed by students and the larger Coeur d’Alene community.  Only organic growing practices are used at the garden, while there are ample opportunities to experiment with related permaculture techniques, such as seed saving, no-till gardening, companion planting, vermiculture, and mushroom cultivation. The garden’s Program Coordinator and volunteers are dedicated to making the Gathering Garden a showcase for teaching and sustainability.”

~~ David Schuab, Gathering Garden Facilities Volunteer 

The Gathering Garden has been a place of learning, growth and community for my husband and I.  We have been loyal volunteers for the last 4 years and give about 5 hours of our time each week during the summer months.  We have had great experiences during the Gathering Gardens skill-sharing and service-learning workshops.  We greatly support the growth of the program for the good of our community, the local food bank and all the student service-learning that takes place.”

~~ Suzanne Marshall, Gathering Garden Volunteer

The Gathering Garden is home to some of my fondest, most memorable moments of teaching.  The field trips that my classes have taken there over the last 6 have not only helped me deliver my environmental science curriculum, but importantly, have provided local teenage youth in our community with a deeper sense of place, belonging, and concrete understanding of what it truly takes to be part of a grassroots team. The Gathering Garden staff has always impressed me with the care and attention they give to each and every one of my students when we visit.  Jessica, Janet, Doug, and the rest of the crew put in countless hours to ensure school groups like mine have a fun, interactive, hands-on learning experience at the garden. As teachers, we are blessed to have access to such a phenomenal facility and team of professionals to collaborate with.”>

~~ Jamie Esler, Lake City High School Environmental Science Teacher

When I arrived at NIC three years ago, I was thrilled to find there is an incredible garden right on our campus.  Since then, our program has formed a strong and treasured partnership with the Kootenai Environmental Alliance Gathering Garden; and watched as the land has progressed from extremely humble beginnings and limited resources with the hard work and dedication of the KEA. The KEA Gathering Garden provides our community and my students not only with a beautiful bounty of produce to work with, but also the opportunity to learn about the vital connection between farm-to-fork and the use of sustainable practices.  From touring the garden and learning about how food is grown; to harvesting; to collaborating on what is grown; and featuring those items in our student operated restaurant, this partnership has proven invaluable to our program.”

~~ Hillary Ginepra, North Idaho College Culinary Arts Instructor

The Gathering Garden is truly that, a place to gather. Beyond learning the basics of sustainable gardening and how to make an impact in my community, I was shown how to lead a team, foster a community, and promote the growth of the people around me. I was given the opportunity to attend board meetings for the Gathering Garden and got to see firsthand how the garden was run. The people on the board were passionate about making an impact in their community, not just by growing produce to donate. The garden to them was, and still is, a place to foster friendship and learning. Community workdays were not just work, they were social events that allowed people of a myriad of backgrounds to come together and work towards the common goal of growing something. I also had a great mentor, Jessica Mannon, who showed me the ropes of managing a project as large as the Gathering Garden. Her love for her community and her passion for the garden were incredibly apparent as she taught me about the sustainable practices used in the garden, and how she was working to make her vision for the garden come to fruition. Not only did I learn how to properly apply mulch to soil and pick onions without damaging them, I also learned not to be afraid to follow my passions. The Gathering Garden is a prime example of a small project that blossomed into a beautiful program purely because of the passion the members of the garden have for that project. I am extremely grateful for the time I was able to spend there before leaving for college and am proud to know I was a part of such a great program.”

~~Josh Weadick, Lake City High School Student, Gathering Garden Mentoree

We had such an incredible experience at the garden, and my students are completely “hyped” to incorporate such an amazing learning/community garden on our campus in St. Maries.”

~~ Rusti Kreider, Honors Science Teacher at St. Maries High School

“I got to work in the Gathering Garden doing my Eagle Project. I lead a group of scouts in placing cardboard and mulch on the walkways which helps to prevent the growth of weeds, beautify the garden and in later years add nutrients to the soil. I love to get fresh food from my garden at home and think the Gathering Garden is a nice place for people in the community to participate in learning to plant, grow and harvest food. I think it is great that the NIC students use the recently harvested vegetables in their classes and restaurant and that volunteers also get to enjoy some of the crops. Jessica is very friendly and helpful and was wonderful to work with for my project.”

~~ Caiddon Dryden, Coeur d’Alene Eagle Scout