Urban farms are ¼ acre tracts, sometimes less, but places where food is grown locally, where people and vegetables thrive.
Longfellow Creek Garden in West Seattle is one example. A quarter acre plot reclaimed for food production a decade ago, it fell into disuse and is now being revived. Along with a handful of committed partners and volunteers, Zach Zink is leading the way to making it a food-producing garden again. Last weekend thirty or forty volunteers showed up to begin cleanup, tilling began mid-afternoon, and there will be more of the same in coming weekends. If you’d like to participate check out their website which shows their link to Growing Washington and provides information about the Longfellow Creek Garden project.
On the same day, just a few blocks away, neighbors were preparing garden plots at Longfellow Creek P-Patch, a separate enterprise.
And, a couple of miles away, volunteers were laying the groundwork for another community garden, Psomizo Garden at West Seattle Christian Church. Psomizo is Greek for “to nourish” or “to feed”, aptly named since their goal is to provide fresh produce to the local food bank. Aaron Hernandez who leads the grounds ministry there recognized the potential for a small garden space that otherwise was not productive. He’s leading the project to clean up, plant, maintain, and ultimately harvest produce from this small plot that he says “just looked tired, so I offered to use a portion of the grounds to an excellent cause.”
By mid-summer, or sooner, crops will be harvested from these plots and put on the table by neighbors and gardeners from the community who want to participate in sustainability, in charity, or who simply want to grow some of their own food. Friendships will have been forged. Babies and puppies, muddy knees, dirty hands and a shared commitment to seedlings have a way of bringing people together.
“But there are sweeter reasons to plant that garden, to bother. At least in this one corner of your yard and life, you will have begun to heal the split between what you think and what you do, to commingle your identities as consumer and producer and citizen. Chances are, your garden will re-engage you with your neighbors, for you will have produce to give away and the need to borrow their tools. You will have reduced the power of the cheap-energy mind by personally overcoming its most debilitating weakness: its helplessness and the fact that it can’t do much of anything that doesn’t involve division or subtraction. The garden’s season-long transit from seed to ripe fruit — will you get a load of that zucchini?! — suggests that the operations of addition and multiplication still obtain, that the abundance of nature is not exhausted. The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.”