Community Garden dedicated

posted 8.4.10

Concrete dedicated its first community garden in a noon ceremony on July 22.

The Angele Cupples Community Garden—named for the Upper Skagit Garden Club’s first president in 1938—first broke ground in May of this year. Since then, a perimeter fence has been built, two raised beds have been installed, and a handful of birdhouses have been mounted on the fence posts.
Several Concrete citizens attended the dedication, but the stars of the show were 13 Cupples family descendants (14 if you count the one “in the oven”), who traveled from as far away as Enumclaw for the milestone event.

“It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing,” said Susan Cupples-Kirchner, Angele Cupples’ first grandchild. “This would have meant so much to [Angele].”
Kirchner brought two of Angele’s lilac bushes to plant at one of the garden’s entries; she and Angele’s great-great-great-granddaughter, infant Alyssa Kirchner, were given the honor of cutting the red ribbon that day.

Dedication ceremony transcript:

Good afternoon. Thanks for coming out to help us dedicate Concrete’s first community garden, the Angele Cupples Community Garden!

I’m Jason Miller. I’m on the Concrete Town Council and I also chair the Imagine Concrete steering committee, which facilitated the Imagine Concrete visioning workshops in April and June of last year. This garden is a direct result of Imagine Concrete.

Before we get into the program, I’d like to welcome the descendants of William and Angele Cupples, who are here with us today.

[Read names of Cupples attendees]

Welcome to you all, and thank you so much for coming!

This fledgling garden is the result of a dream, a desire of the citizens of Concrete to create a sustainable space for growing food and flowers, and learning more about them. It sits on land donated by the Town of Concrete, and measures 79 feet wide by 250 feet long. You can see the perimeter fence around you; each fence post will be topped by some kind of ornamentation—preferably made by the children of Concrete: birdhouses, bird feeders, squirrel feeders, butterfly and ladybug houses, and mason bee nests, to name a few.

During the coming years, the garden will be built out to include:

  • Raised beds that can be rented by citizens, who will be able to choose from 4×8, 4×10, and 4×12-foot options
  • A multipurpose building for gardening classes and presentations, with a covered, open-air space on one end
  • Greenhouses
  • A gazebo
  • Benches and chairs
  • A garden for people who use wheelchairs
  • An Angele Cupples memorial space—details for which are still being worked out
  • Shared fruit and produce gardens, and gardens in which we’ll grow food specifically for the Concrete Food Bank
  • Picnic tables
  • Compost bins
  • Specialty gardens, such as butterfly gardens and gardens designed to attract beneficial insects

This garden started as an idea—or, rather, several similar ideas—generated during the first Imagine Concrete visioning workshop in April 2009. During that workshop, more than 40 citizens of eastern Skagit County gathered to brainstorm ideas about what they wanted Concrete to change and preserve. Several garden-related ideas were put forth: A pea patch. A Victory garden. A display garden. A children’s garden.

A task force was created in late 2009 to combine these ideas into a community garden that incorporated all of them.

In early 2010, Concrete Town Council member Marla Reed brought to the task force members’ attention a $4,000 grant opportunity from School’s Out Washington. The task force received invaluable assistance from Margie Bell with United General Hospital, who completed the application. Letters of support were provided from numerous community organizations, including Concrete School District, First Bloom, National Park Service, United General Hospital, the Town of Concrete, Upper Valley Awareness Task Force, Imagine Concrete, and Concrete Herald.

In short, we got the grant, and the infrastructure you see here today is a direct result of those funds.

In response to one of its stated goals and the parameters of the School’s Out Washington grant, the first phase of the garden enlisted the help of children of all ages whenever it was feasible and safe to do so. High-school-age youth helped with the construction and staining of the fence, and installation of the raised beds you see here……

Younger children—grades 4 to 6—from our local First Bloom program held a planting event here on May 22, during which they planted seeds and seedlings into these two raised beds, and burned their names into the sides of that first bed. You can see the results of their efforts, so far… …

From June 25 – 27, a fence-building blitz brought the perimeter fence to near-completion. Members of our Concrete Lions Club joined with a slew of other volunteers to build the fence. In mid-July and right up until last night, Town Council members Paul Rider, Marla Reed, and Jason Miller, and the DiLeo family—Bob, Lillian, Robert Jr., and Joseph—finished installing the fence pickets and applying stain to some of them.

As you know, the garden is named for Angele Cupples, who was born Angele Howe on March 29, 1903, in Wisconsin, and whose family came west to Bellingham in 1918.

Angele married William “Bill” Cupples in Bellingham on July 1, 1920, and made their first home on the Cupples family homestead at the top of where Baker Dam is located now. They had to sell the property not long after their wedding so the dam could be built, and they spent the rest of their married life on their Grasmere ranch, running a dairy farm there. Angele herself would deliver milk in a horse-drawn cart.

Bill and Angele were very active in the Concrete community; her early career included being a telephone operator in town.

According to club historian Jessie Wenrich in 1977, the Upper Skagit Garden Club was originally a Study Club with no minutes kept. But on Nov. 16, 1938, the first official meeting was held in the Women’s Club Room, where they began calling themselves the Concrete Garden Club with Mrs. L. A. Kidd and Mrs. C. K. Hatcher as temporary officers. On March 8, 1939, they adopted the name “Upper Skagit Garden Club,” with 21 charter members and Angele Cupples named as the first president.

The group was very active for years, promoting and teaching gardening, beautifying the town of Concrete many times, reaching out to other groups in the county and state, receiving many awards, and sending memorials of flowers.

The Angele Cupples Community Garden is the result of successful collaboration between the Town of Concrete and its citizens, both current and past. It is a monumental undertaking that will take years to build out, but its progress from late 2009 to the present already is notable.

Imagine Concrete, then, would like to thank the following citizens, businesses, and organizations for their role in getting this dream out of the clouds and on the ground.

Thanks to the Imagine Concrete Steering committee members: Eric Archuletta, Valerie Stafford, Rick Cisar, Lou Hillman, Barbara Hawkings, Shelle Timmer, Andrea Fichter, Jean Johnson, Launi Harrell, and Jason Miller.

Thanks to the community garden task force members, who are responsible for executing the planning, design, and construction of the garden: Jim Hillman, Jennie Lee McGuigan, Marla Reed, Nicolette Thornton, and Jason Miller.

Thanks to the Town of Concrete, which donated the land on which the garden sits—just under half an acre.

Thanks to Marla Reed and the Upper Skagit Awareness Task Force for providing the vehicle through which the garden could apply for its first grant.

Thanks to Margie Bell of United General Hospital for putting together a winning grant application.

Thanks to Jennie Lee McGuigan, our First Bloom coordinator, for helping us involve some incredible kids during the garden’s first phase.

Thanks to 3DH Aggregates, which donated the topsoil for the first two raised beds.

Thanks to the Concrete Lions Club and the following volunteers who donated their time during the 3-day fence-building blitz:

Joseph DiLeo, James Brangham (from Sedro-Woolley), Chad Hawkings, Barb Hawkings, Floyd Anderson, Bill Newby, Tom Jones, Larry Mosby, Jim Parker, Marla Reed, Bob DiLeo, Lillian DiLeo, Don Payne, Conrad Claybo, Cheryl Prier, Darrel Reed, Barb Withrow, Jim Hillman, Lou Hillman, Robert DiLeo Jr., James Morgareidge, Kay Brown, Jack Mears, Jason Driver Sr., Jason Driver Jr., Jerry Robinson, Rich Philips, Town of Concrete, and Jason Miller.

Thanks to Dan Pfluger of Alpine Lakes Construction for drilling the fence post holes, and to the following local businesses (and one nonprofit organization) for providing lunch each day: Annie’s Pizza Station, Hi. Lo. Country Bar & Grill, Community Stew, and Concrete Herald LLC.

Thanks to Ed Rogge for donating a third of the fence pickets, and to Cascade Supply, our hometown hardware store that daily puts the big-box home centers to shame, and which provided the posts, stringers, cement, and hardware.

Thanks to Skagit County Historian Dan Royal for researching Angele Cupples for Concrete Herald and this dedication.

That’s a long list of thank-you’s, which proves my point: This garden is successful so far—and will continue to be a success—largely because of collaboration amongst Concrete citizens.

And so it is my honor on this day, Thursday, July 22, 2010, to dedicate this garden the Angele Cupples Community Garden, on behalf of the Town of Concrete and its citizens.

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