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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Garden fo’ Eatin’

posted by on April 8 at 12:40 PM


A wretched and overgrown quarter acre sliver of land called Longfellow Creek Garden lies fallow somewhere in West Seattle. But Zach Zink, a man rich with alliteration and vision, sees not an old vacant lot suitable for nothing but litter and discarded hookers, but a glorious, thriving example of sustainable inner-city organic farming.

Zach is a bright and industrious young chap who’s just mad about sustainable organic food production. He sits on the Board of Directors of Tilth Producers, a farming nonprofit devoted to educated and supporting organic and sustainable farms, and he works full time coordinating one of the biggest gosh darn farmer’s markets in the state. He says:

We all know that it is critical to start to make our cities sustainable. Like, with actual work. With every one of us sweating and problem-solving and actually physically changing the way our communities exist. Urban and Neighborhood gardening is without question one of the most critical ways to do this.

Indeed. And so Zach is spearheading the efforts to reclaim the disused and abused land. Growing Washington, a local farm support & management nonprofit, has joined his cause. But he is still in charge of rounding up volunteers, labor, and essential supplies. Hint, hint.

On April 19th the tilling will begin. If you have a hankering to get your volunteer-ish nails filthy, or have a spare hose or weed whacker not gathering dust, you can involve yourself here.

There are 10 volunteers already scheduled for the April 19th kick-off. Those interested in learning to grow their own sustainable, organic food (i.e. learning to not starve in our ever-warming future) are deeply encouraged.

RSS icon Comments


Adrian! Not a touch of snark in this post... I'm so proud of you!! As a West Seattleite who lives in borderline poverty, I am glad to get this info...

Posted by M | April 8, 2008 12:53 PM

well, I want SNARKY...give it to me! dammit.
otherwise, good article. post. whatever

Posted by brandon | April 8, 2008 1:03 PM

I must admit I missed the snark. And the incoherance.

Posted by It's Mark Mitchell | April 8, 2008 1:11 PM

Um. Interesting. I remember saving a quarter acre of leached out soil once, with a few rounds of organic compost and retilling.

The only problem one can foresee is if there are any pollutants in the soil ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 8, 2008 1:18 PM


Posted by heywhatsit | April 8, 2008 1:24 PM

Not to be the negative one here, but doesn't it make more sense to have farms out in the farmland, and keep cities for people? You could put some housing here.

Posted by Fnarf | April 8, 2008 1:26 PM

You could say the same thing about parks, Fnarf. Farmland is where the food grows, not "out there" or "in here". The closer to your mouth the calories grow, the less fuel you have to burn to eat.

Posted by pox | April 8, 2008 1:32 PM

Thanks Adrian! It's brilliant.

Posted by Zach | April 8, 2008 1:45 PM

Okay, wow, um, out there...I live out there right now. it's boring. really, there are only so many times you can see a guy play with sheep...
but I digress.
I've lived in seattle and miss seeing the greenery; especially when it comes to produce. I truly believe that the more a person is capable of sustaining greenery, ala p-patches and parks not stripped to the bare bones (hello volunteer park!), then the more a person is able to understand balance.
For a place called the emerald city it sure seems to be full of cement!

Posted by brandon | April 8, 2008 1:46 PM

Farming is of course how we eat, so farming is important regardless of where it takes place. This land is really not "farm" land, it's more a vegetable garden plot. It's good to know this land, which I know well, will be used to grow veggies. For those well meaning volunteers, be prepared for lots of hard work in the hot sun. Slugs will take alot of your hard work and eat it over night. Is it any wonder rural people all over the planet are fleeing the farms for the cities. Eating it is far more fun than growing it.

Posted by Sargon Bighorn | April 8, 2008 1:46 PM

Who owns this land? The city? If so, could the Parks department convert it to a pea patch?

Posted by Tiktok | April 8, 2008 1:57 PM

The extra energy required to get crops to grow in a place like Seattle likely offsets the rather small amount of energy to transport them from more suitable locations. Not to mention that the yields are going to be far less.

Posted by Giffy | April 8, 2008 1:58 PM

That's an interesting claim, Giffy. I can't refute it. I'm curious why some other location with similar latitude and climate (say, Woodinville) would be more suitable, in terms of energy input and yield per acre, than every possible patch of ground within the Seattle city limits.

Posted by pox | April 8, 2008 2:28 PM

There were no mentions of brittney, benecio, madonna or nipples. I am ashamed of you ginger-boy.

Posted by wisepunk | April 8, 2008 2:40 PM

@13 Not sure about Woodinville, but I know that Eastern Washington gets a lot more sun. Plus there is much better soil over there. The amount of energy to transport food is pretty small. Lets say you eat an entire truck worth of food every year. At 10 miles a gallon, transporting all your food from Eastern Washington would only consume about 20 gallons of gas.

To even get that plot to growing condition your going to need, dirt, equipment, nutrients, etc. My hunch is that it is much more efficient to simply use the growing areas we already have.

Posted by Giffy | April 8, 2008 3:11 PM

i have my own garden to plant. can i get some volunteers to come over & do it for me?

Posted by max solomon | April 8, 2008 4:43 PM

I disagree with your calculations, Giffy, because you overlook one critical item: Water. If were not for the extensive dams on the Columbia and its tributaries, Eastern Washington would be unable to grow much of anything. You have to take into consideration the huge cost (environmental as well as financial) of these dams when you calculate the cost of growing produce in E. Washington. In that regard, it is much cheaper to grow vegetables here, where we have abundant rainfall. Just don't try to grow tomatoes.

Posted by crazycatguy | April 8, 2008 4:54 PM

crazycatguy is right. (purr purr)

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 8, 2008 5:12 PM

No he's not, they dryland irrigate one hell of a lot of farmland in Eastern Washington. But hey, nice Pugetocentric reasoning. WE HAVE RAIN THEY DON'T YAY!

All I can say if this little project keeps the hippies from walking up to me when I'm just hanging out with my sons and asking "hey you got a weed pipe, dude?" than more power to em.

Hope not dope.

Plant some Anaheim greens for me.

Posted by Bob | April 8, 2008 6:21 PM

The best farmland in the state is in Skagit County, in the flood plain. The soils in Eastern WA are rich but dry, requiring irrigation, which is a terrible way to use water, and a leading source of fucked-up rivers.

Skagit (and north Snohomish) is also where the farms are being paved over at record rates. When the parent company of Nalleys and Farman pickles announced they were going to buy all their pickle cucumbers from India instead of Skagit the other day, many thousands of acres were put at risk, since the farmers there have lost their income. Probably be some more nice box stores out that way soon.

Posted by Fnarf | April 8, 2008 6:24 PM

@17, but those dams are already there and are not going away anytime soon. We are pot committed so to speak.

@19 Good point. Anything that keeps hippies(especially the rich ones) from bothering the rest of us gets my support.

Nevermind what I said above.

Posted by Giffy | April 8, 2008 7:46 PM

When you guys are starving, you'll wish you'd been nicer about the "hippies".... cause they'll have all the food and all the pot....

Posted by M | April 8, 2008 9:37 PM

Feel free to come to the work party. 1/4 acre really is a huge amount of land to have in the city. There are a lot of possibilities for what can be grown and 10 years ago the folks that founded it ran a small CSA and sold at a farmers market. The mission of the garden is to show that we can and should grow a significant portion of our fresh produce near or at our homes. Not all our calories per se, but the leafy and crunchy produce that adds layers of comlexity to meals.

Posted by Zach | April 9, 2008 8:21 AM

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