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April 23, 2015 at 7:19am

Growing people: On the job at L'Arche Farm & Gardens

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I'm not going to lie: I was underwhelmed when I first glanced at a press release from L'Arche Farm & Gardens. That wasn't L'Arche's fault. It's because I know next to nothing about farming and/or gardening. What little time I've spent near either farms or gardens was in my teenage years, and I sure don't remember enjoying it then. I mean, chickens are the worst. Have you spent any time around chickens, other than the deep-fried kind served in a bucket? They're the reason I'm still proud to be a carnivore. And turkeys? Ugh, turkeys. They're so dumb they drown themselves sometimes by looking up at rain. And don't think I made that stuff up. It's a fact, by which I mean an urban (rural?) legend that's been tidily disproved on Snopes. And they're mean, too! - like the killjoys at Snopes.

Anyway, back to the good folks at L'Arche. My distaste for agriculture notwithstanding, it turns out there's something newsworthy about this operation. It offers dignity and societally meaningful labor to nine Tacomans with developmental disabilities. The six-acre farm hawks its wares at three farmers markets and contributes to Eating Locally in Pierce County. Its employees and volunteers attend local craft fairs and plant sales. In fact, L'Arche Farm has been making floral and paper crafts, such as holiday wreaths and paper crafts, for three decades. Their 2015 season gets underway soon, with an annual Spring Fling opening celebration on April 25. Look for can't-miss deals on herb and vegetable starts, hanging baskets, and plants both annual and perennial. Following that event, L'Arche Farm greenhouses will open each weekend through June, in addition to their regular 8-4 weekday hours.

It's also worth noting that the farm's much-appreciated volunteer staff includes people from a wide variety of backgrounds, aged from fourth grade to fourth decade and up. These South Sounders come together to make great food and art in the service of self-worth for all, hence their motto "Growing People Growing Plants." Look for L'Arche Farm's organic produce at 6th Avenue Farmers Market, Broadway Farmers Market between 9th and 11th, and Proctor Farmers Market at N. 27th. For more information, especially on how to donate, volunteer or serve on L'Arche's Farm Advisory Board, visit www.LArcheTHC.org and look for the Get Involved! Online form. You can also email Farm@LArcheTahomaHope.org directly. Just be careful to stay away from any turkeys.

SPRING FLING, 10-4 Saturday, April 25, L'Arche Farm & Gardens, 11716 Vickery Ave. E., Tacoma, free admission, 253.535.3178

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