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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Local Trivia

posted by on April 24 at 12:15 PM


I was editing a piece for this week’s paper and looked up the term “P-Patch” in the dictionary. It wasn’t in there. Weird, right? I discovered that P-Patch is a phrase particular to Seattle. Hmm. I asked a coworker from California if she had heard it before she moved here—she hadn’t. Who knew?

Apparently, the P stands for Picardo Farm in Wedgwood, the original local community garden. Fun fact: There are now over 50 P-Patches in Seattle.

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Posted by Stan | April 24, 2007 12:38 PM

I remember first hearing the term 'p-patch' on the J.P. Patches show in the 1970s. I don't remember the exact context but I did send away for some sugar beet seeds that he offered!

Posted by Lloyd Cooney | April 24, 2007 12:40 PM

I guess I always thought they were saying "pea patch."

Posted by RainMonkey | April 24, 2007 12:51 PM

Fun trivia fact number two: Seattle's p-patch program was halted for more then a decade when Seattle cops discovered that recent SE Asian immigrants were using the p-patches to grow opium poppies. I don't recall if they were actually scoring the poppies or not.

Posted by Judah | April 24, 2007 12:54 PM

Lloyd: I wonder if the term took off here because of the popularity of J. P. Patches?!

Posted by Gillian | April 24, 2007 1:06 PM

WTF is a P-Patch?

Posted by portlander | April 24, 2007 1:54 PM

I always thought they were just being witty. P-Patch sounded like Pea Patch with more urban flair. I don't know if I'm impressed or disappointed that it actually stands for something else.

Posted by kap0w | April 24, 2007 2:01 PM

Judah @ 4: yeppers. There used to be a big p-patch near the ID (along Yesler?) and I remember walking by it once and noticing the abundance of very large blue-black poppies. And, yes, some were scored.

BTW, opium can be extracted from any member of the family papaver somniferum contains. Seeds available at your local garden store.

Posted by gnossos | April 24, 2007 2:04 PM

I think you should investigate the p-patches.

They were set up as community gardens -- really a way for those without yards a chance to take part in being able to work a small part of this dwindling land.

Now the p-patches are filled with old timers that have been around for years and years… they have their big beautiful homes with their big beautiful yards…plus they have a p-patch. It's near impossible for someone who is new and would like a plot to get one. Someone who is young, renting without any out door garden space…

The P-patch is cronyism at its best

Not only that, but over the years old time gardeners have accumulated additional plots that free up next to theirs - so they have taken a 10x10 plot they have started with and over the years have expanded into a really nice piece of real estate…once again excluding the "community" from community gardening.

I recommend going to the City (it is a city run department) and asking for their records on the sizes of individual plots - and how they correlate with how long they've been at the patch. I would then cross reference those numbers to the amount of people they have on their waiting list.

I would guess there are a lot of old timers with HUGE plots (and nice yards at home that they could garden in) that have monopolized the P-patch program leaving a lot of worthy people out in the cold and shut out from the benefits of the program...

Interbay is the biggest offender!

It's really unfortunate...

Posted by jp patches | April 24, 2007 2:18 PM

yah you guys used it the other week and i had no idea wtf it was, so i looked it up on wikipedia. i still dont fully understand it. its a community garden in a city, no? i dont know why seattle would make up its own word for it.

Posted by something else | April 24, 2007 2:22 PM

@10 I don't know about Interbay but in my experience volunteering in P-Patches in the ID and South Seattle, the "old timers" are usually low income and they eat everything that they're growing. Often they are cultivating the kinds of vegetables from their home countries that aren't readily available in local supermarkets.

Posted by christopher hong | April 24, 2007 2:27 PM

I can't speak for Interbay either, but I have a plot at Thomas Street Garden and everyone who gardens there are very much the type of people that the P-Patch program was designed for. Most of us also grow additional vegetables and herbs for local food banks. P-Patch and Seattle Tilth are two programs that do an amazing amount of work with very small budgets.

Posted by investigatory journalist | April 24, 2007 2:38 PM

I also thought it was "Pea Patch." All of the Pea Patches I have seen around Seattle have been very nice to look at. The one near Wedgewood is huge.

Posted by elswinger | April 24, 2007 3:03 PM

I always thought it was "Pea Patch", also. But yes, that's a Seattle term for sure... down here they're just called "community gardens", or "pre-housing".

Posted by Dougsf | April 24, 2007 3:12 PM

I thought it was pea patch when I first moved here, but was then led to believe it stood for "public patch."

Which makes sense, no, since it's a community garden?

Posted by Kate | April 24, 2007 10:15 PM

Oh, pah, jp. I got a plot at Picardo for the first time this year, and there was no problem at all. A couple of weeks ago there were still a few short-season plots available there.

Posted by Charity | April 25, 2007 10:30 PM

As a kid in the 70's I remember my mother going to the "Pea Patch" in Springfield Oregon. So it isn't a totally isolated term. Perhaps it migrated south.

Posted by p patch kid | April 26, 2007 1:12 PM

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