Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Urban Farming: Abundant Harvests and Unexpected Challenges

Summer has arrived at the Seattle Community Farm! We have much going on at this small yet mighty space nestled in the Rainier Vista Housing complex.

When I arrived for a visit yesterday, Farmer Scott and the volunteers were carefully washing bok choy and harvesting cilantro. The cilantro leaves had already bolted, but it was the roots that were being harvested. Cilantro root is rarely seen in most grocery stores, but Rainier Valley Food Bank clients use it to prepare soups, curry pastes, and more. Talk about a specialty crop!

Most of the kale, mustard, lettuce, and spinach greens remain in good shape despite our recent warm weather - the greens in my garden at home have all bolted. The strawberries are almost ripe now, and then, well, there are the peas.

Nicely trellised, over eight feet high, and vines chock-full of fruit. What an abundance!

We passed another unexpected milestone at the Seattle Community Farm last week: surviving our first fire.

Scott has been collecting bags of grass clippings from the neighbors to use in the compost piles. We think that some youngsters, while experimenting with a lighter or matches, placed a burning object into one of these bags of grass clippings. Thankfully, a neighbor saw smoke billowing out from the bags and quickly reacted to put out the fire! We are most grateful to our attentive neighbors at Rainier Vista.

The fire did not damage the farm, but does serve as a reminder that we need to continue to help young people find constructive ways to spend their time.

This is one reason we’re excited for an upcoming partnership with Coyote Central this summer to work with local middle-school aged youth. Led by an artist-in-residence, the youth will design and install art at the Seattle Community Farm. The participants receive a stipend for their work, and the positive, creative results will be displayed for all to see. Stay tuned for updates and photos as the project progresses.

We’re ready for a busy summer!

~ Michelle Bates-Benetua, Lettuce Link Program Manager


No comments: