Another new park coming to West Seattle: Puget Ridge Edible Park

(Photos courtesy Stu Hennessey)
By Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog

Thanks to a group of Puget Ridge neighbors, the historically agricultural parcel of land at 5265 18th Ave SW [map] will retain its agricultural status and become urban farmland in West Seattle.

Stu Hennessey, owner of Alki Bike and Board, is part of a community group that has been working toward the preservation of this site to turn it into a publicly owned permaculture farm, to be known as Puget Ridge Edible Park (PREP). They applied for, and were recommended to be granted, a $520,000 share of the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund (here’s our coverage, with video, of project supporters making their case last October).

He says, “We thought it would be cool to have a P-Patch or garden” for fresh produce in their neighborhood.

Puget Ridge is part of an area of eastern West Seattle underserved by grocery stores and known as a “food desert” — any area in an urban setting where healthy, affordable food is difficult to obtain.

Stu describes the group of Puget Ridge neighbors as an informal community organization that started growing produce together and sharing the bounty. He says this is great exercise and calls it “The Permaculture Workout!” They participate in work parties for Puget Creek and greenbelt and have movie nights together.

They had been looking at this piece of property, which has been for sale for two years, to create an urban farm, but couldn’t come up with the funds to purchase it.

The approximately 50 neighbors asked the City of Seattle to use the levy Opportunity Fund to purchase the property and turn it into a public park to be used specifically for community farming.

The City Council just approved the purchase of the property this month, after the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee gave their blessing to PREP – and Stu says the neighbors are ready to start farming!

The existing home on the property will be demolished, and “we’ll hire a garden designer who is familiar with City requirements.” says Stu, but in the meantime, the neighbors are organizing work parties and are hoping to start planting in June. Plans for the garden include a fire pit for community gatherings and a raised-bed, wheelchair-accessible garden. Their long-term goal is to create a year-round farmers’ market to provide revenue for ongoing maintenance and development of the garden, and to provide a continual source of fresh produce to the community, including winter greens.

Stu says they decided against the P-Patch model of community gardening in favor of an all-volunteer, participatory, sharing and teaching garden. Annual fees for P-Patches, though low, still lock out some low-income families from joining and don’t follow permaculture practices. (Permaculture is a is the practice of gardening with the land’s natural resources and ecology to increase yields and minimize human intervention.)

He adds that their goals for this garden include having local produce that doesn’t need to be shipped in, reducing transportation emissions and cost, reducing the danger of cross-contamination with genetically modified strains of produce, and providing food security to those living in the “food desert.”

“We will make big differences with choices people have in our community,” he said.

Progress for Puget Ridge Edible Park can be followed by “liking” their Facebook page, where they will post information about upcoming permaculture classes and other opportunities for involvement.

16 Replies to "Another new park coming to West Seattle: Puget Ridge Edible Park"

  • Pete March 30, 2011 (6:57 am)

    This was one of the highest rated projects that was submitted for this round of the Opportunity Fund. There is still more than 8 million dollars to be awarded in the next round. So if you have a project in mind start working on it so you are ready to go when the call for applications goes out later this year.

  • Kate K March 30, 2011 (11:21 am)

    Very exciting! I ‘liked’ their Facebook page so I can be updated on their progress.

  • Yardvark March 30, 2011 (11:41 am)


  • george March 30, 2011 (12:41 pm)

    Really?? We don’t have the money to keep our existting parks and libraries open and running, yet we move money into new places? I don’t dislike the idea in times of good fortune, but what about the places that are falling apart? How about saving the Walker Rock Garden then while we’re at it. Oh yeah, too late.

    • WSB March 30, 2011 (2:02 pm)

      George, if the Walker Rock Garden situation had been known when applications were made for the Opportunity Fund, I would bet it would have been proposed. As we have been covering here, the applications and reviews have been under way for many months, long before the ownership family made it known they were going to sell it. As for moving money into new places – this was a levy approved by voters almost three years ago, and there is hindsight noting there is no money for maintenance, but it was a specific levy to fund certain parks projects and to create an “Opportunity Fund” for community-proposed projects – TR

  • Lorelee March 30, 2011 (3:56 pm)

    Right on!!!

  • Pete March 30, 2011 (3:56 pm)

    and unlike the previous Pro-Parks levy it was specifically called out in this levy that there were no maintenance funds included. It is just a simple act that you cannot depend on levy funding for ongoing maintenence needs. Hence the reason some folks are pushing for a Metropolitan Park District to provide a source other then the General fund of the city’s budget to pay for ongoing maintenance.

  • george March 30, 2011 (4:09 pm)

    Sure. Until that money runs out, lets dig a bigger hole instead of maintaining the existing ones. How short sighted is this that we can approve new parks, but then let them go to rot when there is no maintenance funding? Too bad?

    WRG would not have been approved, the owners approached the city but was told it was not a project they would under take.

  • Been There March 30, 2011 (6:47 pm)

    @ george – So did the owners of the WRG apply for funding via the Opportunity Fund or did they just ‘approach the city’? Even if the WRG had been purchased/acquired by the city, wouldn’t it then have fallen into the same category of additional park properties that would not receive maintenance funding per your initial posting? Please clarify because I am not following your logic.

  • Matt March 30, 2011 (7:58 pm)

    Go parks opportunity fund!

    While Parks is actively discouraging maintenance heavy projects due to the ongoing budget difficulties, the idea is that many of the proposals are once in a lifetime opportunities.

    I’m all in on capitalizing on every chance to expand our public open space as an investment in the future livability of the city.

  • Stu March 30, 2011 (9:38 pm)

    Interesting twists in the thread here. The Opportunity Fund Parks Levy was overwhelmingly approved in 2008 to slightly increase property taxes to specifically provide funding for community inspired parks projects. The application process was well advertised and open to all. One of the best aspects of the PREP parks proposal IS the absence of maintenance needs. Working volunteers and community out of pocket investments will be rewarded by food products with quality that is highly sought after in our community. These products of course can be a source of development and maintenance funding. We are eager to maintain this park through our own means. Volunteer opportunities are open to all.

  • Kate K March 31, 2011 (1:05 am)

    I really like the plan to raise food for our community right here in West Seattle with all volunteer labor. Woohoo!

  • Marian March 31, 2011 (7:35 am)

    This is fabulous! What better use of our land than to bring people together to sustain themselves on their own good produce? Thanks to all for making this happen.

  • Yardvark March 31, 2011 (8:11 am)

    I think this is an extremely wise investment in food security in a time of financial challenge. Though I’m not involved in the project, I fully support the use of the voter-approved funds to purchase this land in order to ensure that we’ll have more local, sustainable, and accesible harvests in this neighborhood. For all the cool things about that neighborhood, it’s still been recognized as a food desert. Time to end that.
    Thanks for stepping up!

  • Cowpie March 31, 2011 (8:26 am)

    We have enough parks and open spaces. We should be clearing that parcel for development and increasing our City’s tax base.

  • Stu March 31, 2011 (10:14 am)

    Cowpie, I like the handle. As I was a dairy farmer out in Carnation I always kept an eye out for cow pies. The inventory of urban land for development is very high and not selling for a long time. There are very few of the wealthiest developers taking on new projects. What land space in America that is disappearing at an alarming rate is agricultural lands. The property we are talking about has always been ag space. Also the property is bordered by an important tributary to the Duwamish river, Puget creek and with the wetland there is not much space left to develop, therefore no real tax revenues. As fuel prices go up the first market to follow those spikes is the food products that rely on fuel from fertilizer, heavy machinery use, transportation, storage and refridgeration. Another emerging use of ag land space is for growing products that are used for biofuels to replace the dwindling or hard to extract oil reserves. Localization of food security we will soon find to be an extremely appropriate use of land space.

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