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Longview, WA, USA


Northlake Garden

The Northlake Community Garden is a nurturing place where children experience and discover how to create and respect a natural connection with the Earth.

The mission of the Northlake Community Garden project is:

  1. To provide a hands-on outdoor classroom which will integrate science, math, reading, environmental studies, nutrition and health.
  2. To provide an environment where children can discover fresh food, make healthier food choices and become better nourished.
  3. To experience understanding of nature, ecology and natural cycles to enhance children’s ability to be good stewards of the Earth.
  4. To promote community spirit, common purpose and cultural appreciation among students, school staff, families, local businesses and organizations.

The Northlake Garden was the “brain-child” of Dr. Lee Ann Gekas and was started when Dr. Gekas’ daughter, Allison, was a student at Northlake. Her goal was to involve children in vegetable gardening, call attention to good nutrition, and teach the importance of organic gardening.

Each spring a plant sale is held, and weekly produce sales are held each week during the summer. The garden’s signature event is the annual Harvest Festival, held in late October. Families take weekly rotations watering the garden and collecting produce over the summer, and work parties are regularly scheduled to do the major work of each season.

A corner of the NL Garden has been dedicated to the memory of Sterling Fisher, a Northlake 2nd grader killed in a tragic auto accident, along with his father, Paul Fisher, a Longview music teacher, on March 6, 2004.

The Story of Sterling’s Garden

Sterling Hill-Fisher
Sterling Hill-Fisher July 17, 1995-March 7, 2004

The idea for including a remembrance in the Northlake Garden for Sterling Hill-Fisher originated with Northlake second grade teacher, Mrs. Patti Brown. She wanted to plant a “Sterling Rose.” This plan turned into the present garden with help from landscape designer Lisa Bradford of Tsugawa Nursery.

Northlake students collected change in garden gloves in the spring following Sterling’s death. The NL PTO added $500 in 2004. Friends of Sterling and of his father, Paul Fisher, and local businesses also contributed.

Stones, carved with words that Sterling’s classmates thought described him, are placed throughout the garden. “Sense of humor, loving, thoughtful, caring, out-going, good friend, good storyteller, curious mind, and intelligent” are all words and phrases written on these stones.

In the center of the garden is a birdbath decorated with art glass, the work of classmate Blaize Chafe and her mother, Wynell Lamoreaux.

Forget-me-nots grow from seeds provided by Sterling’s mother and scattered by his classmates.

On Sunday, May 22, 2005, a special commemoration event was held at Northlake Garden in tribute to Sterling. The Southwest Washington String Quartet made up of colleagues of Sterling’s father, Paul, played. Members of the group were George Simonsen, Dr. Stephen Meharg, Christopher Leach, and Matt Mandrones.

A fourth grade grade recorder ensemble also performed, as did student violinists Steven Hamilton and Laine Herron.