- First up, our good friends, trees. They need some special attention now and then to thrive in our urban environment, but they will thank you by making your yard more beautiful, the air cleaner and even improve the value of your home. Your first stop is the Seattle reLeaf website. You can find information about planting and care of trees, as well as various tree regulations. Don’t see the answer to your question? Swing by the Ask an Expert archive and then if you still have questions, submit it!
- Next up, veggie gardening. It’s great to grow your own food (can’t get much more local than your yard), but there are some things you should know. “Growing Food in the City” is a great resource on Seattle Public Utilities’ food gardening page. You’ll also want to check out information about growing food in the planting strip. Don’t have a yard? Try growing things on your balcony or see about getting a P-patch. There are 82 of them in various Seattle neighborhoods.
- Pesky pest problems? Before you reach for a bug- or weed-killing spray, check out these tips on natural pest and weed disease control – these practices will help you achieve a healthier, more balanced backyard “ecosystem” in the long run.
- After all that, is your green thumb feeling a little blue because you have a problem you can’t quite get to the bottom of? Give the Garden Hotline a call at (206) 633-0224 or email them firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s a great resource.
This weekend is going to be sunny and warm, it’s perfect timing for getting your veggie plants in the ground. You can pick up an amazing variety of plants, including over 50 kinds of tomatoes and 20 peppers at the Seattle Tilth’s Summer Garden Edible Plant Sale going on this Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5, from 9:00 am to 3:00 p.m. Not only will you get great plants, you’ll be supporting a non-profit community organization.
Can’t make it to the sale this weekend? Consider ordering your plants from a CSA-type model, such as Cascadia Edible Landscapes. Their summer sign-up is open now until May 27.
Already have plants? Here are some great tips on caring for your new plants, and be sure to visit Seattle Public Utilities’ informative page on food gardening in the city, including growing food in planting strips.
Mayor McGinn announced December 18 the creation of additional space for growing food in the city. Approximately 185 P-Patch community garden plots will be developed or made available, along with 14,500 square feet of land dedicated to large tract gardening. Funding is available through investment of $427,000 of inflationary funds that were not spent as part of the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy.
The City has made access to healthy, local, affordable food a key element of Seattle’s Food Action Plan, released in October. The plan lays out steps for City government to take in our departments, programs, and policies to achieve four goals: Healthy Food for All, Grow Local, Strengthen the Local Economy, and Prevent Food Waste.
Read more in the press release.
To mark Food Day (October 24th)—a nationwide celebration and movement toward more healthy, affordable and sustainable food—the City of Seattle released the Seattle Food Action Plan at an event held at Stockbox Grocers in South Park. The Action Plan outlines actions the City will pursue over the next 3-5 years to achieve the following goals:
- Healthy Food for All: All Seattle residents have enough to eat and access to affordable, local, healthy, sustainable, culturally appropriate food.
- Grow Local: It is easy to grow food in Seattle and in our region, for personal use or for business purposes.
- Strengthen the Local Economy: Businesses that produce, process, distribute, and sell local and healthy food grow and thrive in Seattle.
- Prevent Food Waste: Food-related waste is prevented, reused, or recycled.
The Food Action Plan priorities were guided by input from the community and key stakeholders through a series of listening sessions in March. The Office of Sustainability and Environment, together with an interdepartmental team, reviewed strategic actions that the City of Seattle could take in our departments, programs, and policies to address those priorities. The Food Action Plan outlines these actions. The Food Action Plan builds on the work of the Local Food Action Initiative, passed in 2008.
Some highlights of the Action Plan include:
- Expanding the Farm to Childcare program, which brings healthy food from local farmers into childcare sites, trains child care providers on nutrition and cooking, and brings kids to local farms.
- Growing the successful P-Patch community gardening program, which will expand to 90 gardens throughout Seattle by 2013.
- Leasing underutilized City-owned land to urban farmers, who want to expand food production in Seattle.
- Providing technical assistance to neighborhood stores to improve profitability by increasing their selection of healthy foods.
- Continuing to implement the Zero Waste Strategy, including establishing composting at municipal facilities.
The City of Seattle’s food policy work is coordinated by the Office of Sustainability and Environment.
With some food prices likely to go up next year as a result of this summer’s drought, now is a good time to start thinking about how to stretch your food dollar but still provide your family with healthy, nutritious food.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) just released a new guide and website called “Good Food on a Tight Budget.” EWG reviewed government surveys and tests for nearly 1,200 foods, looking at nationwide food prices, nutrients, pesticides, environmental pollutants and artificial ingredients and picked the top 100 or so foods that ranked best on balance. The prices you see in the store depend on the season and where you live, so look for the best local buys.
The guide has simple tips for eating well, quick lists of best foods, tasty recipes, easy tools for tracking food prices and planning your weekly menu, and a blank shopping list to help you stay on budget. Their resources page has handy information on ways to supplement your food budget, find farmers markets, cooking and gardening references and more.
Another great way to make sure you’re getting the most from your food budget is to avoid wasting food – the average American throws away between $28-43 in the form of about 20 pounds of food each month. Learn more about how to prevent food loss in this Natural Resources Defense Council fact sheet (PDF).
Community volunteers, along with Mayor Mike McGinn and Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw and Jean Godden, celebrated the opening of the first rooftop P-Patch community garden at a ceremony June 2 on the roof of a city parking garage. Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and Seattle Center staff joined the festivities on the top level of the Mercer Garage at Seattle Center. Named the UpGarden P-Patch Community Garden by neighborhood volunteers, this P-Patch is the country’s first large-scale rooftop community garden and the first municipal rooftop community garden fully accessible to the public.
“I, like many, began this journey just wanting a plot for growing some vegetables. I did not realize the extent of what was required to bring a P-Patch to life in such a short time,” said Craig Moore, coordinator of the core group of volunteers. “The process has brought me closer to a group of neighbors that I now share a sense of pride and ownership in our creation.”
Read more on the Mayor’s media webpage.
This year, OSE is tasked with creating a food action agenda that will improve people’s ability to eat, grow and sell healthy food in Seattle. To that end, OSE – along with the Mayor and City Council – is hosting 3 listening sessions in March to hear from the community how we should prioritize our food related work going forward. The meetings are free and open to the public, however RSVP is required.
Public Meeting dates:
•Tuesday March 13, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Ravenna Eckstein Community Center (6535 Ravenna Avenue NE)
•Friday March 16, 1:00-4:00 p.m. – City Hall – Bertha Knight Landes Room (600 4th Avenue)
•Monday March 19, 5:30-8:30 p.m. – Southside Commons (3518 S Edmunds Street)
Mayor McGinn recently posted about OSE’s food policy work on his blog. Read the entire post here.
Community members are invited to participate in designing a P-Patch community garden on the roof of the Mercer Garage at Seattle Center. In partnership with neighborhood volunteers and Seattle Center, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is developing a new P-Patch community garden on top of the Mercer Garage at 3rd Avenue N and Mercer Street. The project is funded through the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy which dedicated $2 million to P-Patch community garden development.
Landscape Architects Kistler/Higbee Cahoot will facilitate three public workshops to design the new rooftop garden. Each session will build on the last, so attendance to all three meetings is encouraged.
Meeting #1: Saturday, Dec. 10; 10:30 – 11:45 a.m.
Project overview, P-Patch site visit, and brainstorming
Meeting #2: Wednesday, Jan. 11; 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Compare, rank and refine alternative design plans
Meeting #3: Tuesday, Jan. 31; 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Presentation of final schematic plan
All workshops will be at Seattle Center in The Next 50 Headquarters located at the east end of the 3rd floor of Center House. Seattle Center House is located at 305 Harrison St., Seattle, WA, 98109.
For more information contact Phi Huynh at 206.684.4531 or email@example.com.
Many great things are going on in Seattle and our region to create a sustainable and healthy food system that works for everyone. Innovative programs, such as training homeless youth to grow food or providing fresh food options in “food deserts,” benefit our community in a variety of ways – job and economic development, equitable access to healthy food, and reducing hunger.
Here are just a few of the latest things going on – Seattle is fortunate to have a thriving and growing local food movement leading the way.
The Seattle Public Library will host 17 workshops as part of the “Urban Self-Reliance” series in September and October at several Library locations. Learn how to live a more practical, sustainable life by growing and preserving your own food, using a bike as a healthy and economical means of transportation and more. More info can be found here.