Community Report 2012: ‘Breaking the cycle of generational poverty’

Solid Ground's Community Report 2012

Solid Ground’s Community Report 2012

Hot off the press! Solid Ground’s report to our community on our 2012 work and accomplishments is now available. “Breaking the cycle of generational poverty” reports on recent impacts we’ve made in our community. But it also highlights the long-term positive change our programs can have in the lives of the people who access our services, and the ripple effect this has on their children’s lives.

As Solid Ground approaches our 40th anniversary, we remain focused and committed to our mission to end poverty in our community, and to help our society become one without racism and other oppressions.

Our engagement in this work is only possible through the support of passionate and committed employees, donors, volunteers, and government and nonprofit partners. With this continued support, we look forward to working ever more purposefully to help families and individuals overcome the challenges of living in poverty and progress to a place of thriving.

Feel free to share “Breaking the cycle of generational poverty” with others who may be interested in our work. If you’re not already on our mailing list and would like a hard copy of the report mailed to you, please email your mailing address to publications@solid-ground.org.

Urgent: call your Senators about the Farm Bill

Clean radishes

Clean radishes

Here’s a breaking news update on the Senate Farm Bill and the latest message (from the Anti-Hunger & Nutrition Coalition) to deliver to our Senators. Please pick up a phone to call Senators Cantwell and Murray.

Please share this information with your networks:

Farm Bill Process
The Senate began their debate of amendments to the Farm Bill yesterday morning. Unfortunately, they missed their biggest and best opportunity to help hungry families and seniors by rejecting the Gillibrand amendment that would have eliminated the $4.1 billion cut to SNAP. Senator Murray co-sponsored the amendment and Senator Cantwell voted for the amendment. But in the end, the amendment failed to get 50 votes on the Senate floor, ultimately defeated by a vote of 26 yeas to 70 nays.

If there’s a bright side to this, the Senate also defeated a number of even more damaging amendments proposed by Senator Roberts that would have tried to instill many of the cuts proposed in the House Bill, including an amendment that would have greatly restricted Categorical Eligibility and eliminated Heat and Eat entirely.

Additionally, Senator Brown has introduced an amendment that will be debated on the floor that would add $10 million to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program as well as add funds to other programs that help farmers markets and increase access to nutritious, locally sourced produce. This is an effort that we support since the Senior FMNP helps low-income seniors have access to the fresh produce that they need to stay healthy in body and mind, but $10 million will be a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the cut to SNAP — our first-line defense against hunger.

Even if this amendment is added to the bill, the Senate will be voting on a final package as soon as tonight, or possibly tomorrow morning, that will cut SNAP by over $4 billion — a cut that will take $90 per month out of the SNAP benefits for 232,000 households in Washington.

Tell Senators: Support the Brown Amendment but Vote NO on the Final Farm Bill
Call Senator Cantwell and Senator Murray now and ask them to support the Brown amendment. Let them know that we support adding funding to the Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program, because if the cuts to SNAP proposed in this Farm Bill take effect, then we need to make sure that seniors have all the assistance they can get to have access to nutritious food that they can’t otherwise afford on a fixed income.

We need this amendment to get the final Farm Bill package in the best shape in can be should it pass the rest of the Senate, but in the end, we still need our Senators to vote NO to the final Farm Bill package, because the proposed cuts to SNAP are unconscionable. No Farm Bill this year is better than living with the consequences of a Farm Bill that slashes SNAP and as a result, increases poverty for hungry families with children and seniors. The Senate can always go back to the drawing board and save their yes vote for a Farm Bill that does not make unconscionable cuts to SNAP.

Senator Murray: 1.866.481.9186
Senator Cantwell: 1.202.224.3441

•    Vote YES on the Brown amendment to increase funding for Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program.
•    Even if that amendment passes, vote NO on the final Farm Bill because of the unconscionable cut to SNAP — our first line of defense against hunger.

Seattle Community Farm: A harvest slideshow

Seattle Community Farm Panorama

Seattle Community Farm panorama (all photos by John Bolivar, jbphotography.com)

On one of the first cool, drizzly fall days following this year’s record-breaking dry Seattle summer, local photographer John Bolivar visited our Lettuce Link program’s Seattle Community Farm at Rainier Vista to help us document 2012’s lush harvest. Although Farm Coordinator Scott Behmer claimed the harvest was beginning to wane, we still witnessed as Scott, Lettuce Link VISTA Amanda Lee and a community volunteer gathered and washed scores of pounds of beets, squash, heirloom tomatoes, radishes and greens.

This is the Seattle Community Farm’s second growing season, and according to the Lettuce Link Blog, more than 7,000 pounds of produce had been harvested and donated to the Rainier Valley Food Bank as of early October 2012 (more than twice last year’s harvest, when the Farm was still getting established). Enjoy this slideshow of the bounty!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Honey bees at the Seattle Community Farm

This post, written by Scott Behmer, Seattle Community Farm Coordinator, originally appeared on the Lettuce Link blog.

Two honey bees

Dance of the honey bees

We recently acquired a new addition to the Seattle Community Farm. Well, thousands of new additions actually. The Seattle Community Farm is now home to two colonies of honey bees!

Honey bees, along with birds and bats, pollinate over one-third of the food that humans eat. Without honey bees it wouldn’t be just honey that we would miss, but many fruits, nuts and vegetables.

To prepare for the bees’ arrival, we built a small enclosure for the hives so people can view the hives up close without having bees fly in their faces. The enclosure also prevents people from accidentally bumping the hives.

The bees came from an apiary in California, by way of the Beez Neez in Snohomish. They arrived in a wood and mesh package that contained:

  • Three pounds of worker bees
  • One queen bee
  • Food for the bees during their travels

    Blue bee hive

    Blue bee hive

After we picked up the bee packages, we dumped them into their new hives, gave them some food to get started, and let them do their thing.

There are three types of honey bees:

  • Drones are the male bees. Every day they fly around and look for a queen bee to mate with. Drones are only a small percentage of the bees in the hive.
  • Worker bees are underdeveloped female bees. They are the majority of the bees in the hive, and they do many different tasks. The worker bees gather nectar and pollen from flowers, raise the young bee larva, and defend the hive from intruders.
  • Queen bees are fully developed female bees. A bee colony usually has only one queen bee, and she lays all of the eggs. A queen bee can lay 1,500 eggs in a single day!

Our new bees will pollinate flowers and crops in the surrounding area, provide a great learning tool, and (we hope) give us some sweet honey.

Interested in beekeeping? The Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, Urban Bee Project, and Seattle Tilth’s Backyard Beekeeping 101 class are great places to start!

A bazillion bees!

A bazillion bees!

On Kids & Carrots

This post, written by Jessica Sherrow, a Harvest Against Hunger Summer VISTA with Lettuce Link, originally appeared on the Lettuce Link blog. Lettuce Link is one of several partners stewarding original urban farmland at Marra Farm in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood.

A handful of carrots!

A handful of carrots!

Marra Farm is a place that defies stereotypes. The word ‘farm’ even takes on a new meaning when applied to our little agricultural oasis in South Park. The images associated with that word – solitary, quiet, pastoral – dissolve when you step onto our farm.

Truthfully, it can be a little chaotic. Kids from Concord International Elementary or the South Park Community Center running around; a few dozen of our 1,800 annual volunteers working and digging and planting; planes, trains and cars filling the air with that distinct urban din – it’s not at all what you would expect on a farm.

So, true to form, Marra Farm manages to do what many parents thought impossible: It makes kids love vegetables. It’s a bold statement, we know. But it’s a hard thing to deny when a 5-year-old, while pulling one carrot out of the ground and simultaneously munching on another exclaims,

I WANT TO EAT ONE MILLION CARROTS!!!!”

And when you think about everything these kids experience throughout the growing season, it makes perfect sense. They dig in the dirt and plant seeds. They water to their heart’s content, and then they watch their little plants grow.

Children's Garden sign at Marra FarmThey harvest the veggies themselves – chard, sweet peas, carrots, broccoli – and help prepare a snack especially for them. Today, it’s Chinese Veggies and Rice, and it’s a hit.

We can’t help but wonder, then, if all children are secretly veggie-lovers? It appears the only thing kids need is a little involvement in their food – planting a seed or chopping a leaf – anything to make it more fun, more exciting, and more delicious. After all, if we can get a 3rd grader to eat kale, the sky truly is the limit…

For more information on gardening and cooking with kids, check out these amazing projects: Lettuce Link’s Seattle Community Farm, GRuB: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities, Seattle Youth Garden Works, Seattle Tilth, and The Edible Schoolyard Project.

Many hands, cleaning carrots

Many hands, cleaning carrots

Lettuce Link joys, challenges and new directions

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on the Lettuce Link blog.

Welcome to 2012! On these gloomy January days (when we are rather glad to be warm and dry indoors instead of out in the garden), it’s a good time to pause and take stock of where Lettuce Link has been and where we’re going.

So, without further ado, here are a few of our accomplishments in 2011, made possible by the help of our generous volunteers (over 9,329 volunteer hours!) and financial supporters:

And yet, as we catch our breath this winter after a busy year, we’ve found ourselves at a bit of a crossroads. Fewer grants, budget cuts and belt-tightening measures provide an opportunity to reassess our work: What are our program’s strengths? What do we do that’s unique? How can we continue to grow and change our program to meet community needs, provide wrap-around services for Solid Ground participants, and further our anti-racism work?

These are not easy questions, but we’re committed to working through them with your support. Here are a few exciting projects to keep an eye out for in 2012:

  • Building an overhead structure at the Seattle Community Farm, which will allow protection from the elements and make the space more conducive to community gatherings.
  • Expanding our CSA project at Marra Farm, to both raise funds for our program and offer a sliding-scale subscription to our neighbors.
  • Advocating for just food policies on the city, state and federal levels. Watch the Lettuce Link blog for details in the next few days!
Thank you for your time, resources and support both this past year and as we boldly stride into 2012 – pushing a wheelbarrow and wearing our rainboots!

The Lettuce Link team – Michelle, Sue, Scott, Robin, Amelia, Mariah and Blair (with much gratitude to Molly, Kate, Andrea, Sophie and Alice – our staff, AmeriCorps volunteers and interns who have moved on to new adventures).

You are warmly invited to Marra Farm

Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program invites you and yours to Marra Farm in South Park to celebrate national Food Day on Monday, October 24. We will explore the crops in our Giving Garden, learn about the rich traditions of farming and community in South Park, and discuss Lettuce Link and Solid Ground’s broader mission to end hunger, poverty and oppression in Seattle. We also will press apples into fresh cider, save seeds for next year, and lead a tour of this community-powered sustainable urban farm. In addition, students from Concord International Elementary will harvest the pumpkins they planted in the Giving Garden last spring. Please dress for the weather, as there is little covered space at the Farm.

Food Day seeks to bring together Americans from all walks of life — parents, teachers and students; health professionals, community organizers and local officials; chefs, school lunch providers and eaters of all stripes — to push for healthy, affordable food produced in a sustainable, humane way. Visit the Food Day website for more events and information.

What: Food Day
Date: Monday, October 24
Time: 10 am – noon
Location: Marra Farm, 9026 4th Ave S Seattle, WA  98108
RSVP: RSVPs appreciated — sign up on the Food Day registration page
Getting there: Bus routes and driving directions to Marra Farm

Raising food, connecting cultures

(Editor’s note: This is the main story reprinted from our July 2011 Groundviews newsletter. To read the complete newsletter or past issues of Groundviews, please visit our Publications webpage.)

A work party at Seattle Community Farm, June 2011

On a cool, drizzly June day, Sudi convinced his 7-year-old brother to join him at a work party at the new farm nestled within their housing complex. They helped move the last load of dirt into neat rows, soon to be planted. Scott Behmer, Seattle Community Farm Coordinator, says that when he started in the fall of 2010, the Farm was little more than “a grass field and a parking lot” near Rainier Vista (a mixed-income housing community just off MLK Way in South Seattle). Today, after two+ years of planning, community meetings and “a lot of physical work moving in 200 cubic yards of soil and tens of thousands of pounds of other materials,” the 1/3-acre Farm is fully planted and celebrated its official Grand Opening on June 25.

     Seattle Community Farm is the newest project of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program, which works with and in communities to grow and share fresh, nourishing food, and envisions a city where people have equal access to healthy and culturally appropriate food. Scott says, “Our goal is to get vegetables to folks who struggle to afford them.”

Cross-cultural community building

Getting the new Farm to where it is today has been a true organizing effort: Lettuce Link worked with many partners, including Seattle’s P-Patch Program, landscape designer Eric Higbee (who donated his services) and Seattle Housing Authority.

     Lettuce Link Program Manager, Michelle Bates-Benetua, says, “Together, we crafted and carried out a culturally relevant engagement process so the community could tell us what they wanted. It may take longer and it is more expensive to provide food, childcare and interpretation, but our intent is to work together with the neighborhood so that in a few years, they run the Farm and we’ve worked ourselves out of a job.

     “The grand vision is that the community is able to produce food together across cultures and language, share that food among themselves and with the Rainier Valley Food Bank, and utilize the gathering space as one community instead of several distinct groups living in one neighborhood.”

     Mariah Pepper, an AmeriCorps*VISTA serving this year as Seattle Community Farm’s Outreach Coordinator, says, “It’s an interesting neighborhood; Rainier Vista is a mixed-income housing development, so there’s every kind of person you can imagine.” Residents run the gamut from Seattle Housing Authority seniors and people living on very low incomes, to Habitat for Humanity homeowners, to renters and homeowners affording full-market rates.

     Seattle Community Farm is built on a Work Trade model Scott describes as “one way to try to make the volunteer model work for people where time might mean a lot more because they’re lower income and might work more jobs. Basically, if you work two hours, you get a bag of vegetables,” worth about $30/bag. “So you’re not just volunteering, you’re coming and working in exchange for vegetables.”

     Michelle says, “The goal is to make sure our volunteer opportunities are accessible and meaningful for the community” – and yet this poses challenges. The Rainier Vista area is extremely culturally diverse: Residents speak approximately 50 different languages. Mariah says, “With so many languages and so many cultures, it makes outreach a bit difficult, because there are so many different ways that people interact with each other – and a sea of information. And that’s the thing we’ve all learned: We have to have multiple ways of getting information out there.”

     When possible, staff use interpreters and have outreach materials translated into multiple languages. Scott says Rainier Vista has “a lot of community events. So we’re going to those, and going door to door, leaving flyers and talking to people.”

Sudi, a Seattle Community Farm volunteer and Rainier Vista resident

Sudi, a Seattle Community Farm volunteer and Rainier Vista resident

Good chemistry

Sudi is one young resident who both volunteers regularly and is helping get the word out to other residents. Originally from Ethiopia, his family has lived at Rainier Vista for six years. Having just finished his third year studying chemistry at St. Martin’s College, he says his dad asked him to come out to volunteer one day, and they happened to be doing a class on composting. “We talked about fertilizers and nitrogen, and so I get interested when I hear that!” Sudi says, “I think it is wonderful. Aside from just doing the work, you actually learn how to grow plants. We have fun talking about different kinds of plants, and it’s just a learning experience.

     “I try to get people involved here in the neighborhood. Scott gave me flyers, and one day I took it down and gave it to some people – trying to explain the reason behind it. The reason why this is here, from my understanding, is this is a (mostly) vegetable garden – and trying to get more nutritions from vegetables into this community, who either don’t know much about the importance of it – or since vegetables are expensive, they don’t get much of it. Having it here, and them working on it and harvesting it themselves, is a big thing.”

     Scott says, “It’s always great to get volunteers from the community to come out and work, and hear a little about them, and see them enjoy it.” Mariah adds: “Food is so connected to culture – so it’s a way to talk about how we grow things, how we cook things and eat things, and have a conversation across these differences. I would like to see the Farm be able to bridge that.”

For more information about the Seattle Community Farm, please contact 206.694.6828 or urbanfarm@solid-ground.org, or visit www.solid-ground.org/Programs/Nutrition/CommunityFarm.

The Giving Gardener: Plant your cool weather crops!

Giving Gardeners –

If you haven’t yet planted a seed this season, do not fear, there is still time! In fact, if your garden beds are not too soggy, this is a great time to get started. March was kind enough to water our garden beds almost daily, and though April feels as cold as winter, spring is here.

This is the time of year to plant cool weather crops — lettuces, carrots, beets, pak choi, gailan, kale, chard, collards, spinach, mustards, broccoli, radishes and onions. The radishes and onions, if harvested when young, can be the first crop you donate.

Though food banks often get many storing onions, they do not always have a fresh supply of green onions. Practically any onion variety can be harvested young with the green shoots above ground and the small bulb below ground. Green onions or scallions are appreciated by cooks from diverse culinary traditions and can easily be interspersed in your garden, taking up very little space.

Planting from seed usually results in hardy plants as only the strongest make it to maturity. Planting from starts helps you keep ahead of the weeds. Either way, if you’re growing for donation, you can request seeds and starts from Lettuce Link.

You can also make a donation to support Lettuce Link or keep up-to-date with them through the Lettuce Link Blog.

Happy Gardening!

Community radio supports community gardening

Cool: KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio is teaming up again with Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program, this time for their Winter Fund Drive, which takes place through Sunday, February 20.

Donors who give at the $52 level and above can choose to have a portion of their gift passed on to Lettuce Link to support its efforts to get nutritious organic produce to hungry people. This past Spring and Fall, similar efforts raised some much-needed support for Lettuce Link and provided great exposure as well.

As the only community radio station in the Seattle area, KBCS aspires to be the radio of choice for adventurous listeners who are passionate about music, curious about our world, and value social justice.

To accomplish this mission, KBCS produces and broadcasts quality programming that supports more inclusive interdependent communities. KBCS is a non-commercial, listener-supported source for local, national and international music and information that draws from and reflects the diversity of our population. Operated as a public service by Bellevue College, KBCS trains and provides opportunities for community members to participate in all aspects of radio.

KBCS relies on donations from the community to support station operations. The KBCS Winter Fund Drive began Friday, February 11 and continues through Sunday, February 20. The goal for this important Fund Drive is $75,000. To donate securely today, please go online to KBCS’s website and click on the “Donate Now” tab.

Of course, you can also donate additional support directly to Lettuce Link!

Harvesting goodness at Marra Farm

Another wonderful set of harvest photos from our good friends at Marra Farm.

Mustard greens, chard, radishes and some happy honey bees!

Radishes

Honey bees

The entire sets can be viewed here.

Thanks once again to Marra Farm volunteer Steve Tracy for his beautiful photographs.

Inspired? Come join us on Fridays (only 3 left for 2010!) from 10am-2pm at Marra Farm (9026 4th Ave S) for harvesting, washing and being outside on a crisp fall day. Call Sue at 206.694.6746 x1 for more information.

Ground broken on new Seattle Community Farm

An earthmover in action

An earthmover in action

On Tuesday, September 28 at 7am, a long-awaited dream began to take shape as construction workers broke ground for the new Seattle Community Farm – tucked behind the Rainier Vista housing community on MLK Drive in South Seattle. To some, it may look like a big pile of dirt right now – but those who have been planning this farm for over a year know it’s future manna.

Seattle Community Farm is the latest project of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program, which has engaged the South Park community in sustainable food production at Marra Farm since 1998. The new farm is primarily funded by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Food Project. The City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods also supports the project.

Construction worker at New Seattle Community Farm

Construction worker at groundbreaking

Groundwork for the new Seattle Community Farm was carefully laid over the past year by Lettuce Link staff, VISTA volunteers Leslie Heimer and Jamie Robinson, and landscape designer Eric Higbee, in partnership with the Department of Neighborhoods. They conducted thorough outreach in the Rainier Vista community (representing seven different language groups). They gained valuable feedback and participation in finalizing the design for the new farm from the very people who will utilize and nurture it.

On Saturday prior to the groundbreaking, Lettuce Link joined a Rainier Vista Multicultural Celebration to bring the community together in anticipation of the new farm. Seattle Community Farm Coordinator, Scott Behmer, posted this story about the event on the Lettuce Link. blog.

The vision for the new farm is that it will turn unused urban land into an educational farm for local residents and volunteers. Produce grown at the farm will go to residents with lower incomes, the Rainier Valley food bank, and the children who participate in Lettuce Link programs. The farm will model a shared garden environment rather than individual plots, and will help teach children and youth about gardening and eating healthy foods.

Future Seattle Community Farm

Future Seattle Community Farm

The Seattle Community Farm is a partnership between Lettuce Link, Seattle Housing Authority, and the City of Seattle P-Patch Program. For more information, contact Farm Coordinator Scott Behmer at scottb@solid-ground.org or 206.694.6828, or Lettuce Link Manager Michelle Bates-Benetua at michelleb@solid-ground.org or 206.694.6754.

Vandalism and theft at Marra Farm

Peace Scarecrow

This post is reprinted from the Lettuce Link. blog:

Not Cool: We have some shocking and disappointing news from the farm this week. This past Friday, July 15th, volunteers and staff arrived at the farm to a disconcerting scene. Someone had broken into each shed looking for valuable tools to take. Not only hand tools, but the much-needed (and expensive to replace) lawnmower and weed whacker had disappeared in the night. In addition, the P-Patch shed had been opened and all its contents overturned, although it appears that nothing went missing. Neighbors chased away some teens throwing the unripe apples at farm structures Thursday night, but the two occurrences seem to be unrelated.

Even more frightening, while inspecting the shed, our Marra Farm Giving Garden Coordinator Sue McGann found what looked like (and was confirmed to be) bullet holes in the walls of the P-Patch shed. The police officer who arrived at the scene believes that the holes were made by someone using the shed as target practice. The police wish to assure everyone in the community that they are still safe in the area. Even so, all of these events are a disappointing show of disrespect towards the farm property and the people who work on and benefit from the farm’s operations.

Upon hearing this news, Julie Simon, a long-time volunteer scheduled to work at the farm the next day with a group of friends, first made a detour.  Her detour was a shopping trip and out of her own pocket, she replaced the lawn mower and weed-whacker.  It was heartening to arrive and see the shiny new items. More than replacing stuff it was her thoughtful act of kindness that was totally unexpected and really lifted our spirits.  It is a reminder that we do this work TOGETHER and that it is only through caring for one another that we can truly nourish our community.

Marra Farm Giving Garden is a project of Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program. For more info about Marra Farm, contact Sue McGann at 206.694.6746 x1 or suem@solid-ground.org. For info about Lettuce Link, contact Michelle Bates-Benetua at 206.694.6754 or lettucklink@solid-ground.org.

Farm talk with Sue: spring harvest, greenhouses and more

Our Lettuce Link program has posted another Session with Farmer Sue. Check it out for the latest news about our Giving Garden at Marra Farm.

To see previous videos go to Solid Ground’s YouTube channel.

P-Patch volunteers take ending hunger into their own hands… and gardens

Every Tuesday evening from mid-April to October, a group of dedicated volunteer gardeners gather at the Interbay P-Patch to plant, weed and harvest food for people who are hungry. 

Foodbank garden plot at Interbay P-Patch

Supported by Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program, the Giving Garden at Interbay has several P-Patch plots dedicated solely to growing fresh fruit and veggies for local food banks. These food bank plots yield approximately 5,000 lbs of fresh, organic produce each season—all of which is donated to the Ballard Food Bank, Mary’s Place and St. Martin’s on Westlake. 

Master gardeners Deb Rock and Jude Berman both garden at Interbay and co-coordinate the Food Bank Gardening Program there. They also spearhead the Tuesday night work parties—enthusiastically sharing their passion for “gardening while doing good” with a core group of volunteers. Rock has been a food bank gardener at Interbay for more than a decade, and Berman joined the program in 2004. 

Last Tuesday, about a dozen volunteers braved the temperamental spring Seattle weather to help plant a huge donation of lettuce starts that had come in earlier that day. 

Berman says that volunteers show up each week for a variety of reasons. Some live in apartments and have no garden of their own. Some are new gardeners eager to learn from seasoned pros. Some are students from Ballard High’s horticulture program; others have their own P-Patch plots at Interbay and simply want to be part of the good work going on. 

“No matter what brings them here, after they are here, they fall in love with the garden, and they stay,” Berman said. “This isn’t just about growing food for a salad. There’s a critical need in this community—especially now. We’re feeding people.” 

Interbay Food Bank Garden co-coordinator Jude Berman (left) and Lettuce Link's Sadie Beauregard (right).

Lettuce Link supports P-Patch food bank gardeners with seeds, starts and volunteer support, as well as with help coordinating delivery to the food banks. Lettuce Link works with more than 40 P-Patches like Interbay throughout the city. Combined, these Giving Gardens bring in nearly 28,000 lbs of produce each year. 

Work parties at the Interbay P-Patch are held every Tuesday evening from 5:30 until sundown throughout the growing season. At the end of each work party, the food bank gardeners usually gather in the beautiful Interbay patio space to share ideas, a glass of wine and perhaps a nibble of something fresh from the garden. 

Everyone is welcome, whether you are a master gardener or a novice just starting out. Just stop by anytime after 5:30. The Interbay P-Patch is located at 2452 15th Ave W (15th Avenue W. and W. Wheeler Street). 

You can email Jude about volunteering on Tuesday evenings at Interbay, or about food bank gardening in general. 

To get involved with other P-Patch Giving Gardens throughout the city, contact Lettuce Link.

Celebrate Earth Day with random acts of flowers

Celebrate Earth Day with random acts of seed sowing and benefit Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link program.

Anthropologie (at both their U-Village and downtown stores) will donate to Lettuce Link a portion of the proceeds from all sales of their Seed Bombs. While the name suggests violence, Seed Bombs really are a peaceful and ingenious way to broadcast wildflower seeds!

Bombs away!

Made by a US company, each pack contains 5 “bombs,” the size of a bath bomb. They contain a mixture of wildflower seeds indigenous to the western US. They come in a darling muslin pouch that has been hand screen printed (so you can keep the pouch afterwards). The Seed Bombs are on sale now, until they’re sold out! Get some and spread some wildflowers in your yard or the vacant lot down the street.

Gardening open house benefits Lettuce Link

How can you scratch your itchy green thumb and help feed hungry people at the same time? Head on down to Madison Valley on this coming Saturday, April 24th, from 11:00am to 3:00pm, where City People’s Garden Store is holding a Spring Open House in partnership with Café Flora and Full Circle Farm. The event benefits Lettuce Link!

You can learn how to grow your own heirloom vegetables from Bill Thorness, author of Edible Heirlooms. Learn about organic produce from Full Circle Farm. Take a cooking lesson from the chefs of Café Flora. Get advice on starting your own vegetable garden from City People’s Landscape. Enter the raffle to win a gift basket.

10% of the day’s proceeds will go to Lettuce Link, Solid Ground’s program that partners with the City’s P-Patches to grow/harvest fresh produce for Seattle area food banks.

As an added treat, enjoy Old Time music in City People’s outdoor nursery by members of The Tallboys and Klezmer music by Harvey Niebulski & Sarah Funke & Friends.

For all the details, including the workshop schedule, go to the City People’s Garden Store workshop website.

Chard, tomatoes and blackberry bramble

Our good friends at the Urban Farm Hub posted this great profile on Solid Ground’s Lettuce Link coordinator, Michelle Bates-Benetua. Since 1988, Lettuce Link has connected people in need in the Seattle area with fresh organic produce and the information they need to grow their own nutritious food. Michelle is a leader in our local sustainable food movement.

Michelle Bates-Benetua and farmer Sue McGann

Public meeting on new community farm is March 3!

From our good friends at Lettuce Link:

Artist's rendering of new Community Farm at Rainier Vista

Artist's rendering of new Community Farm

“I think we should have worms,” said one teen at The Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, “and compost. The worms help make compost.” This is one youth’s idea of what our new community garden should look like, and we’re glad to have his input. As the Seattle Community Farm project is preparing to create a new Giving Garden at Rainier Vista, we would like neighborhood residents and members of the surrounding community to be a part of the process.

To read the rest of this post about the March 3 meeting at the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, please jump to the Lettuce Link Blog!

New Community Farm sprouting up at Rainier Vista

From our partners at Lettuce Link, Rainier Vista: Giving Garden Update in Southeast Seattle

The January sky lightens up a bit, and all of us at Lettuce Link are preparing for the spring ahead. With the help of the Department of Neighborhoods, the Seattle Housing Authority, and other community partners, we are working to transform half an acre in the Rainier Vista neighborhood in a giving and teaching garden. 

Location of new Communty Farm

Location of new Communty Farm

 

Aerial view of location of new Community Farm

Aerial view of new Community Farm location

 

Modeled after Marra Farm, the Seattle Community Farm will be a space for low-income residents of Rainier Valley to grow food for themselves and to share with the Rainier Valley Food Bank. While the garden will focus on food production, there will be many chances for gathering, celebrating, and learning. Garden education opportunities will be available throughout the growing season — seed saving, children’s gardening, and food preparation workshops are all being considered. 

Street view of site of new Community Farm

Street view of site of new Community Farm

 

Artist's rendering of new Community Farm at Rainier Vista

Artist's rendering of new Community Farm

 

Lettuce Link’s VISTA Members, Jamie Robinson and Leslie Heimer, are coordinating outreach activities in and around Rainier Vista — asking neighbors what they would like to grow, how they would like the garden to look, and how they will be involved. We are particularly interested in hearing ideas for celebrations and community gatherings that can take place in the garden. When neighbors come together to break bread (or chard or broccoli for that matter), strong communities can take shape. 

If you are interested in being involved in the Seattle Community Farm, please contact Jamie or Leslie at urbanfarm@solid-ground.org. There will be many opportunities to share your ideas, or just to get your hands dirty. 

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