Did you know that there are several Food Gardens in Rainier Beach? Sure, you know about the Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands or the Thistle P-Patch off MLK. But that’s not it! There are now a number of little gems popping up everywhere. So many in fact, that we’re still looking for names for some of them!
A few years ago, teachers and parents of South-Shore got together to create a Learning Garden between the school and the Dunlap playing fields. The initial vision stated: “The garden is a place where students from South Shore School and the Rainier Beach Community Center can learn about nature by working together using their hands in ways that help them succeed in science and math class, learn about nutrition, and eat fresh healthy food. Adults can also take classes at the Rainier Beach Learning Garden.”
Over time, the garden lacked a little love and attention, until the Mission Continues, a veteran-led platoon, brought it back to life last year. They’re now passing the baton to our friends at Beet-Box to take over, where they have started to host a series of gardening classes.
Another example is a space that was created through a partnership between the King County Department of Public Health, Kaiser Permanente, RBAC, and the Ethiopian Community in Seattle, known as “Places for People.”
This project– called “Reclaimed”– is an activation of space conceived by youth of the Rainier Beach neighborhood. It is financially supported by the vision of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington who is piloting innovative ways to support community health through community engagement, integrating physical activity into daily life, and repurposing the built environment to support healthier lifestyles.
Months were spent conducting outreach to get ideas from residents about what they want the location to feature. Surveyors shared that RBAC would keep the site clean on a daily basis and form volunteer work teams to service it weekly, Corner Greeting style. The elements that residents– meaning businesses, youth, senior citizens and a representative sample of the ethnic population of the neighborhood– chose included paved area and planter boxes. This garden would be in alignment with the food innovation district vision for the area where healthy foods are more plentiful for residents.
Finally, RBAC is growing its own small vegetable garden and looking to triple the number of raised beds outside the office in partnership with the Black Farmers Collective (BFC).
For those of you not familiar, BFC is developing Yes Farm out of 1.5 acres of space along I-5 at Yesler Terrace for community building, educational programming, and growing a farm co-op. They have a community garden where neighbors living in Yesler Terrace garden have access to raised beds. Elders and youth and their families all have an opportunity to grow their own food, be outside, and build community with one another.
They actively work with Yesler Terrace community partners to develop educational programs for youth, share the stories and knowledge of elders growing in the garden, and share greenspace with this diverse community. They also grow food and share growing space with Black urban farmers from around Seattle, with all the produce going directly to BIPOC-led and owned organizations, businesses, and mutual aid efforts to feed the community and support economic development.
BFC reached out to RBAC for an opportunity to increase locations to grow food, especially in Rainier Beach, where a lot of their volunteers come from, and we welcomed the extra help!