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Free workshops on raised-bed gardening and soil testing March 28

March 25, 2015

Spring Family Healthy Garden Fest at McLendon Hardware in North Tacoma to include Health Department staff

TACOMA, Wash. – Want to learn how to raise vegetables safely, even though your yard could have elevated arsenic and lead levels from the former Asarco smelter? On March 28, the McLendon Hardware in North Tacoma will host the Spring Family Healthy Garden Fest, a free event that includes workshops on raised-bed gardening, plus information from Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department staff on soil testing for arsenic and lead contamination.

The Asarco copper smelter operated for almost 100 years in Ruston near north Tacoma. Smoke from the smelter stack distributed arsenic and lead over soils in a 1,000-square-mile area. The Health Department is participating in McLendon’s event because raised beds are a great way of growing healthy vegetables and fruits without mixing with potentially contaminated soils in the yard.

The Spring Family Healthy Garden Fest runs on Saturday, March 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at McLendon Hardware, 1015 N Pearl Street in Tacoma. All activities are free, and workshops will be held several times during the event. Activities include:

  • McLendon Hardware’s raised-bed gardening workshop, along with a clinic on raising mason bees
  • Sign-ups for free soil testing for arsenic and lead in your yard from the Health Department
  • Tips on gardening and plants from the Master Gardeners Program at the WSU Extension
  • Advice from the City of Tacoma’s Natural Yard Care Program on how to make your yard environmentally friendly
  • All you want to know about City of Tacoma’s Tagro products
  • Fun activities for families with young children

For more information on the event, contact Greg Tanbara, (253) 798-4784 or For more information on the Tacoma Smelter Plume Program, go to

About Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department: Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department’s mission is to safeguard and enhance the health of the communities of Pierce County. As part of its mission, the Health Department tackles known and emerging health risks through policy, programs and treatment in order to protect public health. Learn more at

Edie Jeffers, Communications Manager (253) 798-2853, (253) 405-6822 (cell/text),

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