Farm Reflection Pt. 4

I’m starting to wonder if Seattle is becoming one big urban farm. There are so many opportunities to get involved in the urban farming community. This spring, I visited several of the farms, gardens and P-Patches that I’ve been hearing and reading about.

On my walks around my Ballard neighborhood, I pass countless raised bed gardens. It seems like every parking strip and front yard is a mini Garden of Eden. After growing up in the high desert of New Mexico, I am still amazed at the abundance and variety of plant life in the Pacific Northwest. Everything grows! All the time! Everywhere!

And in just a section of Seattle, north of the Ship Canal and west of Highway 99, there are nine P-Patches: Ballard, Phinney, Kirke Park, Gregs, Hazel Heights, Linden Orchard, Greenwood, Greenwood Station and Evanston.

The P-Patch website describes the P-Patch Community Gardening program as “a community of gardeners throughout the city who enjoy organic urban agriculture at community-stewarded open spaces through the P-Patch Community Gardening program. P-Patch is the name given to the City of Seattle’s community gardens. The name commemorates the Picardo family who operated a truck farm — a farm dedicated to growing produce for market — in the Wedgwood area in the early twentieth century. In 1973, part of the former farm was acquired from the Picardo family and became the first community garden in Seattle — the Picardo Farm P-Patch.”

I feel like I was just getting started in my exploration of urban farms and gardens in Seattle. Here are the places I visited:

  • UW Farm (of course!), Nurturing Roots Farm, Beacon Hill Food Forest (a P-Patch)
  • P-Patches: Maa Nyei Lai, Cascade, Magnuson, Ballard, Phinney, Kirke Park, Greg’s.

I found two places in particular that openly welcome volunteers and newbies like me: UW Farm and the Ballard P-Patch. They would be a good place to connect with a farming community. Plus I like that both places donate food to the community.

There are many more places I want to visit: Yes Farm, Black Star Farm, Rainier Beach Urban Farm, Danny Woo Community Garden…and Picardo, the original “P” in the P-Patch program.

Here are some photos from my field trips this spring.

Nurturing Roots Farm — This farm is near the corner of S. Graham and Beacon on the south end of Beacon Hill. I met the owner Nyema Clark, and her mother, along with other volunteers who were there for the weekly Sunday work party. She has run this farm for 7 years and it has been a non-profit for 5 years. It was originally an abandoned P-Patch and has expanded into a space used by several neighborhood organizations. It’s a productive, high-yield farm with a focus on community, education and social justice.

Maa Nyei Lai P-Patch — This felt more like a farm than a community garden. I think this is a fairly new P-Patch. It is under power lines and the SeaTac flight path. Most of the farmers I saw were SE Asian women. Aside from the airplanes overhead, it was very quiet. I’d like to go back and see what it looks like later in the season. I’m sure it will be very productive and a source of food for a large part of the community.

Beacon Food Forest — photos coming soon

Ballard P-Patch — photos coming soon

Ballard parking strip — I walked by this as they were getting it set up. A week later, the planters were full and things were growing! I liked the scale of this and I was considering doing something similar, but I decided to go with cedar wood beds and just do one in my back yard. I also liked seeing the progression of it from supplies to garden.

Magnuson P-Patch — just a few of the many plots in this well-organized and busy P-Patch. This is were I started to get an idea of what is possible in the space of the average P-Patch plot.