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Heritage Farm Manager Joe Zimmerman oversees Master Gardeners installing the drip irrigation system. 

The Pacific Northwest is a great place to grow delicious grapes. 

With many different varieties to choose from and different ways to prune the vines, growing the fruit yourself may seem like a daunting task better left to professionals. However, the Washington State University Master Gardeners program wants to show the Clark County community how to grow the tasty and useful fruit in their backyards with a new demonstration vineyard at the 78th Street Heritage Farm. 

“We’re patterning the efforts of the (demonstration) blueberry field,” Master Gardener John Moore said about the new vineyard. “We know grapes can be complicated and they need different kinds of trellising systems and different kinds of care.”

The idea for the new demonstration vineyard was hatched after the success of the blueberry program at Heritage Farm. With gardeners all over the county visiting the farm with the goal of growing the best blueberries, Moore said it was time to get another small fruit demonstration off the ground to expand on the Master Gardeners’ small fruit program. 

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Joe Zimmerman discs a field in preparation for a cover crop. 

According to Moore, along with the demonstration vineyard showing the many breeds of grapes that grow well in the Pacific Northwest, the farm will have examples of different pruning techniques and irrigation systems. With every row of grapes in the 150-plant vineyard showing something different, home gardeners wishing to grow grapes can find the growing technique that’s right for them. In the future, Moore hopes to host Master Gardener workshops at the farm. “We want to get the word out to the community just like we did with the blueberries,” he said. “I think this is going to be a great thing to have.” 

Moore retired to the Clark County area after a life of traveling with a career in the military. He always had a patch of garden wherever he lived, but he wanted to get involved with other gardeners in the community and joined the Clark County Master Gardeners in 2016. For him, grapes are interesting because there are many different types and techniques gardeners can use to grow them. 

“They’re so useful and such a good plant around here. You can get different varieties for jams and raisins and juices,” he said.

While the workshops won’t be available to the public for the next year or two, Moore is excited to start planting the rest of the vineyard. As of now, the crew has planted about 30 of the expected 150 plants on the property. Despite grapes being very particular about the soil they grow in, Moore said the soil around the farm is “really good” and the hardest part about getting everything set up has been installing the irrigation. 

The grape demonstration vineyard is just the next step for the small fruit program. According to Moore, the Master Gardeners hope to get kiwis and other small fruit demonstrations set up in the future. 

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The vineyard was disced and planted with a cover crop last fall. The blueberry field is in the background. 

If you are interested in getting involved with the Clark County Master Gardeners, email Erika Johnson at erika.d.johnson@wsu.edu.

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