Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Road Trip Part 5: Seattle

The view from the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle

We rolled into Seattle after tearing ourselves away from wonderful Portland, and – thanks to the most generous 10-year-old in all of Washington state – enjoyed a real bed to sleep in for a couple of days. Thank you, Bridget, for giving up your bedroom to these weary camper van-travelers!

Bridget’s parents took us to a wonderful new organization in their suburban community of Woodinville called 21 Acres. A powerful and, obviously, motivated group of citizens started 21 Acres to be a complete local food system resource to the community. When completed, the property will include a demonstration farm operating on permaculture principles, community garden plots, a farmers market venue, and a  LEED-certified Platinum educational center and community kitchen. This video paints a nice portrait of the group’s passion and big ideas:

As long as I’m highlighting righteous agricultural nonprofits in Seattle, I have to mention Seattle Tilth – part of Washington Tilth Association a group with deep roots in Northwest organic and sustainable agriculture.  From their web site:

Seattle Tilth inspires and educates people to garden organically, conserve natural resources and support local food systems in order to cultivate a healthy urban environment and community.  Our vision is to transform the NW region into the organic gardening capital of the world.

Lisa Taylor, the Education Program Manager for Seattle Tilth, recently assembled a fantastic book called “Your Farm In The City: An Urban Dweller’s Guide to Growing Food and Raising Animals”.

It’s a deeply informative book – velvety in texture and rich with pretty illustration – and one of you lucky readers will have a chance to have your very own copy by commenting on this post! Tell us what you’ve had the most success growing in the city – or in a container – to be entered. The lucky recipient will be chosen on Wednesday, June 22nd.

One visit I was really looking forward to never happened because of a mishap with the camper van. Long, boring story with a less-than-tragic ending – we never made it to Jennie Grant’s urban homestead and world headquarters of The Goat Justice League…Whimper… Justice League Blues…If you’ve been reading the HOMEGROWN blog for a while, you already know about the GJL, but for the uninformed, The Goat Justice League was founded out of Jennie’s own struggle to secure official permission for raising dairy goats (mini-LaManchas) on her 4000-square-foot urban lot. The web site has tons of information, tips and recommendations for other interested urban goat keepers, so check it out.

The thing that brought us to Seattle to begin with is The Mother Earth News Fair in Puyallup, WA. This two-day extravaganza of exhibits, workshops and lectures was a magnet for some of the most friendly, passionate, knowledgeable sustainable living folks I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. We had so many wonderful conversations with people who fall all along the spectrum of experience and skills. All are energetic and motivated to make change that starts in their own back yards. We handed out our HOMEGROWN How-to cards, told people about our little online community, and I managed to wrangle and herd about 30 very excited children in a seedball-making workshop. My apologies to the rug cleaners who had to deal with the aftermath.

Note to vinyl geeks: Two recommended record stores are Easy Street in West Seattle and Sonic Boom in Ballard.

We spent the last day in Seattle seeking peace and relaxation and found it in the Japanese gardens at the University of Washington Botanic Gardens. The Azalea were past their prime, but the Rhododendron, Iris and Wisteria were at peak bloom on this (surprise) sunny Seattle day. Highly recommended. More photos of our time in Seattle are on the HOMEGROWN Flickr page.

Next up for us: several good nights of sleep in our own bed – whoohoo!

10 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Road Trip Part 5: Seattle”

  1. Glad you enjoyed Seattle (I live up north in Bellingham, WA). My best overall success if raising food has been eggs. Keeping a few chickens is just so easy, and we nearly always have plenty of eggs. Lately, I’ve had the most success with lettuces. We’ve had such a cold, wet spring this year, but we’ve enjoyed a steady supply of lettuce.

  2. Best thing I’ve grown in the city? Without a doubt, Swiss Chard! If well fertilized, you can get a steady supply of beautiful, nutritious, monster leaves in not too much space (okay for containers, but much prefers a little land to spread out). Also, since its biennial, you’ll have more next year.

  3. I’ve had great luck with arugula and leafy greens in general. And my cabbage this year was so large that I ended up composting half of it.

  4. I’m just starting to container garden, after spending many years grousing that I didn’t have room for a “real” garden. I love growing lettuce! It’s easy, tastes great, and because it’s right at hand, I’m eating a lot more salads. Plus, people in the complex are fascinated with it, because most of them have never heard of growing things in pots except flowers, so I might have to add that I’m growing a community! I LOVE IT!

  5. I have had tremendous success with tomatoes, cukes and garlic in my urban garden. I can’t seem to grow radish, lettuce or a decent sized melon to save my life but I refuse to give up! THis year I put in 3 kinds of melons (one has to grow, right?!) and I’m trying again at putting out more radish and lettuce for a fall harvest. Crossing my fingers!

  6. My basil is doing really well, and I have some broccoli coming up too. Tomatoes can be hit or miss, sadly. I will keep working on it!

  7. Sounds like a great trip. I had no idea you could get mini-LaMancha’s. That’s EXACTLY what I want for my yard. This post was worth the read for that tip alone.

    I’ve grown the usual in my little Tennessee back yard, tomatoes, greens, peppers, etc. But grapes have caught me off guard. I planted one vine a few years ago, and it has taken over the side of my house! It’s currently hanging LOW to the ground with some of the most beautiful white grapes you’ve ever seen. The small trellises I built were falling over earlier this spring under the weight, and had to be repaired.

    I have them in a spot with early morning sun, and quite a bit of continuous drip irrigation (the vine sits underneath my son’s upstairs window unit air conditioner). Evidently, they love the conditions.

  8. Ooh that book looks great! David I am so jealous of your grapes… I’ll have to do more research to see if Maryland would be a good location for them. I’d have to say I’ve had the most success growing green tomatoes. All of the red tomatoes were either destroyed by insects or perhaps taken by visitors to the community garden, but I did manage to make some yummy spicy green tomato relish that’s really good with a cheese quesadilla or grilled meat!

  9. Jonathan Price Says:

    The greatest success I had growing in the city was, surprisingly, corn! I had 3 tight rows and ended up with a hefty harvest!

  10. Thanks everyone for your comments!
    Cindy, everyone in Seattle said that this past winter was a brutal one. Here’s hoping for a sunny summer for y’all!
    Ty, thanks for the tips!
    Hi Jenni! Composting beats sending it to the dump :) Do you make sauerkraut?
    Cynthia, where there is a will, there’s a way – you go, girl!
    Lashanda, never give up – yes!
    Kristi, it seems like the glory of a great homegrown tomato overpowers the anguish of a bad tomato season. Keep it up!
    David, white grapes?? Wow! We here in MA see a lot of Concord grapes (purple), but I’d love to hear what you’re planning to do with all of that bounty!
    Aliza, your patience and acceptance for the (maybe) red tomato thieves is a good lesson. When life gives you lemons…make green tomato salsa!
    Johnathan, my husband will be encouraged by your success. He fancies himself quite the urban corn farmer, but has not had much success yet. :)
    So, the book goes to Cynthia – congratulations!! Send me your address and it will be on your doorstep soon. Enjoy and happy growing everyone!

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