3 Seattle Gardens That Feed the City
Seattle Youth Garden Works Farm
At two farmers markets every spring and summer—Wednesdays in Wallingford and Saturdays in the U District—you can buy fresh produce directly from the kids ages 16 to 21 who planted and grew it at the Seattle Youth Garden Works Farm.
Margaret Hauptman started the program in 1995 as a way to aid the number of homeless youths seeking out services in the U District. In 2010 the program merged with Seattle Tilth as both an employment program for homeless and underserved youth and as a local, organic garden.
To help raise the $200,000 annual cost of the program, the kids work the half-acre farm on the UW campus near the Center for Urban Horticulture growing salad greens, collards, onions, radishes, peppers, and specialty tomatoes—this year they’ve seeded 7,000 tomatoes for Seattle Tilth’s edible plant sale (May 3 and 4).
Though the growing slows during winter, the young farmers take cooking, food justice, and resume-building classes, or work on farm projects, such as building a second greenhouse to get the radish and spinach started earlier in the season.
Seattle Youth Garden Works helps young people —and us too.
Beacon Food Forest
The Beacon Food Forest at 15th Ave South and Dakota doesn’t look like much yet…until you know what you’re looking at. Still in the early stages of planting and growing, many of the plants are small, green shoots. The apple and hazelnut trees are young and skinny; they won’t bear fruit for three to five years. But even now, dark green leaves lining the ground hint at strawberries to come, and the tender lettuces poking out of the soil herald summer salads.
The Beacon Food Forest started as a final design project in a 2009 perma-culture course—focusing on sustainable and self-maintaining agriculture. The idea was so enticing that the instructors—Glenn Herlihy and Jacqueline Cramer—and others turned to the public to make the project a reality. The team began working with designers and holding public meetings to finalize plans for the seven-acre plot donated by Seattle Public Utilities.
The first phase—a 1.8-acre section of community gardens, an edible arboretum, and a nut grove—is near completion. The community plots will be run like a P-Patch, but the rest will be open harvest, free to foragers. The BFF provides educational programs about nutrition, plant cultivation, seed saving, and sustains the community as well.
Seattle Market Gardens
To see a market garden in action, swing by the farm stand in summer. As part of Seattle’s P-Patch program, market gardens are intended to bring communities together, specifically communities with low-income populations. High Point Market Garden (32nd Ave SW and Juneau) as well as NewHolly (42nd Ave South and Rockery) are surrounded by subsidized housing, and many of the local tenants are also gardeners.
Gardeners sell their own produce directly to their neighbors. And if they run out of cilantro in the stand, they just might run over to their plot and pick more on the spot for a customer in need. Since many of the gardeners are of a certain age, the stand often becomes a family affair, with younger family members covering the technological transactions—at NewHolly Market Garden, the 10-year-old grandson of one gardener handles the EBT machine like a pro.
The amateur horticulturists of Seattle’s market gardens sell their radishes, potatoes, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash in two ways: from the on-site farm stands and through community supported agriculture (CSA) subscriptions, which allow individuals and families to pay a set fee for a weekly produce allotment during the harvest season.