Thursday, March 3, 2011

Seattle Community Farm Community Meeting

This past Monday (02/28) 35 people braved the cold and rain to come to a meeting about the Seattle Community Farm. Many had been to meetings in the past, helping to shape the design of the farm. Some were new to the neighborhood, or had heard about the farm and were interested in finding out more.

We had four interpreters which gave us a total of five languages being spoken that evening: English, Vietnamese, Somali, Chinese, and Amharic. Scott, the Farm Coordinator, and Mariah, the Outreach Coordinator learned very quickly how to pause to give time for the interpreters to repeat their words. The room sounded like an international airport, or UN conference, with a hum of words and gestures that allowed everyone to share the experience of talking with one another. We spent some time talking as a large group, and some time in individual language groups, answering questions.

We talked about three main topic in the meeting, and here are some highlights from the conversation:

Work Trade Program
This is a way for low-income families to gain access to fresh produce. Anyone who volunteers on the farm who needs vegetables will be able to take home a bag of produce at the end of their volunteer day. Folks who are regular volunteers can commit to 8 Work Parties between March and November, and they will receive a larger bag of produce each time they volunteer. The rest of the vegetables that don't get distributed through the Work Trade Program will go to the Rainier Valley Food Bank.

What should we plant?
We wanted to make sure we are growing produce that people will eat, so we asked people to vote for their favorite vegetables and herbs. We will look at what was most popular and plant more of those. We asked people to vote by putting stickers next to the name and picture of a vegetable.

And the top ten vegetables are (drum roll, please):
Green Beans
Green Onion
Summer Squash

What classes or workshops should we offer?
We found out that a lot of people are already gardeners, but many of them also come from very different climates than our wet and cool Pacific Northwest, and want advice on gardening here. The three themes that were most popular are:
  • Organic fertilizer and soil management
  • Timelines and crops for the Pacific Northwest
  • Small space gardening

Many thanks to the people who helped make this meeting a success:

Naomi Change of Seattle Housing Authority
SHA interpreters
Kate Farmer of Neighborhood House
Lettuce Link staff

If you live in Rainier Valley and are interested in volunteering with the Seattle Community Farm, please contact Mariah Pepper at or 206-387-6644.

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