By Paul Haas, Senior Director of Community Engagement
Seattle’s largest, newest and arguably coolest urban farm is taking shape exactly where you might least expect it… tucked into the Rainier Beach neighborhood. And right now, Seattle Tilth is at the forefront of an emerging capital campaign to transform this eight-plus acre swath of once fenced-off land into a thriving, bustling farm that produces tons of healthy food for a neighborhood that has known more than its share of hunger, obesity and other nutrition-related health conditions.
However healthy food may not be the most important thing to come from this farm. Indeed, the real “bumper crop” is the way this piece of land brings together an unlikely array of neighbors — immigrant elders with lakefront homeowners, daycare moms with young guerrilla farmers, wetlands preservationists with high school students — around what they share in common and what they can accomplish together.
“We have so much hope for this land,” says Yalonda Masundire, a neighborhood leader who heads the Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands and helped spearhead the effort to secure the site.
Which gets to what’s especially cool about the Rainier Beach Urban Farm: that even though Seattle Tilth manages the farm and operates all on-site programming, the farm really belongs to the Rainier Beach neighborhood.
“This is Seattle Tilth at its best,” says Executive Director Andrea Dwyer. “At Rainier Beach, we are working with our community partners to help realize their vision for a better, healthier, more equitable food system.”
The vision for Rainier Beach Urban Farm is absolutely vibrant! Imagine: crop rows bordered by orchards and chicken coops, a covered classroom and outdoor workspace adjacent to greenhouses for year-round growing…and in the heart of it all, a market stand and community gathering space.
To realize this vision, Seattle Tilth is working with our partners, the Seattle Parks Foundation and the Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm on a $2.4 million capital campaign. We have already been working hard on our goal and, in just the past few months, we have raised roughly half the funds needed to accomplish our campaign goal.
In early 2014, we will be entering the final phase of the Rainier Beach Urban Farm capital campaign, for which we will be turning to our friends, including our donors, members, volunteers and the broader community.
So please stay tuned! And in the meantime, stop by and see the potential for what can happen when a community comes together around creating a better food system.
See more photos from the farm on our Facebook page.
Originally printed in Seattle Tilth’s newsletter, Way to Grow, October – November 2013.