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10 Community Gardening & Local Food Activities To Excite And Inspire

Thomas Street P-Patch - The Most Desired In The City

Last night we had our monthly Sustainable Neighborhood meeting, where we set out our goals for the coming year.  I headed the “Food” Section, where we focused on local food and gardening.  As we continue further into difficult economic times, food security and helping local businesses are becoming increasingly important in our community. We came up with a great list of ideas last night, so I thought I’d share them with you.

1.  New Community Garden Partnerships.  There are 2 potentially new community gardens going into our neighborhood soon, though they’ve been having some funding trouble.  Since these “P-Patches” are so high in demand (each with a 2-5 year wait list!), we’re going to contact the city and find out how we can help expedite the process by volunteering labor, materials, etc.  

At the same time, we’ll be keeping an eye out for any new potential sites, as there are funding opportunities through the city’s Department of Neighborhoods program.

2.  Adopt a Roundabout or Median.  There are many boulevard medians and small roundabouts in our neighborhood, some of which definitely need care. Through the City, we’re going to adopt one or two and fill them with native and/or edible plants.

3.  Help Local Farmers Bring Food To Market.  Small organic farmers are definitely struggling in the current economy.  So when our local farmer’s market returns in May, we’ll be asking the farmers how we can help them person their booths, get the word out, or otherwise help in any way.  

4.  Get Fresh, Unused Food To Those Who Need It.  Recently local farmers and backyard gardeners have had fruits they can’t pick, which means healthy fruit is left to rot on the trees or on the ground.  We’re going to partner with a local organization who already has a Community Fruit Tree Harvest operation in other neighborhoods. Additionally, we’ll be seeking out local farmers with whom to partner.

When we bring these foods to families, we’ll also provide easy, healthy recipes so that they are more likely to use and enjoy the foods we bring.

5.  Food Education.  We’ll be starting an initiative to educate neighbors about the link between the food we eat and climate change, obesity, energy, etc.  We’ve started with information on local eating on our website (written by yours truly), but we’ll be adding a section that focusses on the health benefits of eating local, seasonal, unprocessed foods.

At our annual Sustainability Festival, we’ll have a booth dedicated to educating our neighbors about local food resources and the many health and environmental benefits of eating locally.

Additionally, we’ll be looking for a local location to host seasonal cooking classes.  These will likely include some of the simple recipes I’ve been collecting!

6.  Plant Natives and Remove Invasives In Our Neighborhood Greenbelt.  You’ve visited this area with me before!  We’ll be joining regular work parties each month to recuperate this important 14 acre wildlife corridor.

7.  Urban Gardening Tour.  It is our hope to inspire our dense urban area that we can garden in fire escapes and window boxes, indoors, on stoops, in alleys, and wherever there is a bit of space.  Our first Urban Gardening Tour will likely coincide with our neighborhood garage sale, so that people can take a break from shopping to check out gardens!  We’ve already contacted a local restaurant with a beautiful herb garden in the parking lot, and we’re hoping to find a few more businesses in addition to residences. 

8.  Edible Wild Herb Tour.  Sounds fabulous, doesn’t it?  In the past, before I arrived in my neighborhood, there was a wonderful botanist that held this tour of the neighborhood, pointing out edible wild plants and herbs, and describing how to use them.  We’re hoping to get him to do it again!

9.  School Gardening Projects.  We all know that cultivating gardeners early is important, so we’re hoping to partner with a local school or two to help the set up edible gardens and teach kids how to garden, or help to maintain gardens that have been neglected.  We haven’t figured out the logistics of this yet, but hope to know more about how we’ll do it soon!

10.  Urban Gardening Classes.  I’ll be partnering with a friend to teach a beginning class on gardening in small spaces, at the local Community College.  We’re also planning to partner with the local library for another class, as a part of their 2009 Sustainability Series. Additionally, we’re hoping we can find neighbors with the skills to teach composting and native plant classes, or to teach us so that we can teach the classes!

Does that inspire you?  What else should we be thinking about?  What else are you up to in your community?

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11 comments to 10 Community Gardening & Local Food Activities To Excite And Inspire

  • Rob

    I missed the sustainable burien meeting sunday as usual due to the fact I had to work- again! Sounds like your groups are doing well!

  • I live in central Maine. A few years ago a Dirt and Soil guy from the Cooperative extension presented a 6 week class on sustainability. As part of the class he asked each participant to volunteer 25 hours. He also began a community garden that grows organic vegetables for low income seniors. We are heading into our 5th year now. We supplement the food we provide for the seniors with end of the day produce donated to us from a local farmers market and vegetables grown at the university’s organic farm. We deliver once a week. We estimate that we deliver about 2000 pounds of food to 55 seniors. WE provide easy recipes for the produce that we provide. In our 3rd year we were given a small back yard green house and the town donated a tool shed. Last year we gave tomato plants in 5 gallon buckets to those seniors that wanted to grow their own fruit. A local grocer donated reusable bags. Every year our fearless leader works tirelessly to apply for grants to buy seed. We are a small but committed band of volunteers. It feels like good work.

  • Wow, what a great list! We plant a garden every year with the children at the school where I work. The older children get to cook and eat their fruits and veggies. The little ones mostly eat on site. :)

    This year I’m going to propose that the older children plant a row for the food bank.

  • What a great list! And a great group to meet with too, I’m sure. This year, even though we have a big garden of our own to take care of, Scott is going to go down to the community garden to volunteer on the weekends. They have a regular weekend farmers market and they are just now starting their own CSA, so it should be an exciting time to help out. Plus in addition to supporting our community garden, it will be a great spot for him to learn more and meet new people. I’m excited for him.

    I also really like the idea of planting part of the garden for the food bank. I’ll have to call our local Wheels on Meals to find out what kind of food donations they take. I’d like to help them.

  • Hey Melinda! We’re working on two new projects over here in West Seattle.

    The first is in conjunction with the West Seattle Edible Garden Tour. We have added a fair earlier in the season with local cooking seminars and demonstrations as well as classes on urban gardening, small space and container gardening, and food preservation.

    Next, we are adding three more community gardens in the neighborhood with the idea of feeding those neighborhoods. Two will focus specifically on those people living on the adjoining streets and one will be for the purpose of supplying local food banks.

    Sounds like your development/improvement group is light years ahead of us though. Would love to attend a meeting and see how yours is structured. Maybe drop us a line…

  • [...] post on One Green Generation reminds me that we have our first community garden meeting this coming [...]

  • Wow, what a fabulous group you must have! We’re just getting started in my community. I’ve tagged your list for inspiration once we get going. I would love to fill some public spaces with edible plants. Going to have to give this one some serious thought… Thanks!

  • [...] on over the last couple of days. Warm enough for bud break, and then ice cold again. Phew. However, we just created a community Urban Gardening plan for the year, which makes me excited to get going. I’ll be teaching a few classes and getting neighbors [...]

  • That’s so exciting! It’s weird how do-able all of that sounds to me. Most community activities sound really far-fetched and unappealing to me, but everything you’ve described here sounds like really concrete, easy things to do to get some gardening and local food activism going. Inspiring!

  • [...] few weeks ago, I wrote about the sustainable gardening plan we created at Sustainable Capitol Hill. Well, we have begun! On Tuesday six of us got together and [...]

  • [...] in February (was it that long ago?!), I wrote about our Sustainable Capitol Hill gardening plan.  One part of that plan is to adopt a neglected roundabout in our neighborhood.  It’s [...]

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