Patrick Robinson
Mark Brands of the Site Workshop speaks to the crowd about the Westcrest P-Patch. Phase One, the construction of the primary features of the garden is likely to begin in May and be planted hopefully in September or October.

Westcrest P-Patch is getting ready to grow

The Westcrest Park P-Patch took the next step toward reality on April 7 as the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods held a meeting with neighbors and potential future gardeners. But notably different from other P-Patch efforts in and around this area was the degree to which this project reflects the ethnicity of the area.

Those gathered represented the Somali community, the Hispanic community and the Cambodian community so in addition to those speaking english each table had a designated interpreter which led to some gentle laughter as Mark Brands of the Site Workshop spoke, and had to wait as each table heard the translation and got the information.

Brands said that it's challenging with four different languages being spoken. "That's the biggest challenge of this project, the outreach," said Brand.

The P-Patch Community Gardening Program is managed by the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods in partnership with the P-Patch Trust, a non-profit corporation. Today, there are 75 P-Patch gardens, with 2,200 plots and 4,400 gardeners.

Getting the "Bones, the framework done," for the project is said Brands, "likely to be the Seattle Conservation Corps because we can contract with them directly. The paths the fencing and building the garden allotments, and shared use areas will be done by the community. There's a balancing of what the contractor does and what the community is willing to do."

The April 7 meeting's purpose was to present a preferred direction for the overall plan and then produce a document to build from. "We had pretty significant consensus on the direction we're going to share from the last meeting," Brand said. That direction was for a "strong grid" configuration. There was a consensus for the southern section of the garden where the playground is currently located,
will become a shared garden surrounding a gathering place.

You can see the various features in the garden by downloading the PDF at the link above.

The playground is being moved to the new area as part of the Spraypark project being created atop the now underground reservoir. But that won't begin until next winter or early spring next year. A second gathering place is in the center of the new garden.

Fencing to keep dogs out will be installed as will a series of gateways around the permiter will permit access to the P-Patch.

Brands said the project is, "Likely to happen in several phases. The central portion is phase one. The shared garden may be part of phase one as well.

The playground move would be phase two and an orchard or berry farm would be phase three.

One other potential feature of the P-Patch would be border gardens next to the fences.

An area yet to be completely worked out is how it will be marked and Brands suggested that wooden or concrete markers might use the name of countries or big cities from certain countries, to reflect the diversity of those doing the gardening work.

This project is on a fairly fast track. Phi Huynh, MSW, Inclusive Community Engagement Specialist said, "We're hoping to start construction in the beginning of May, depending on permits and with volunteers in place by September or October have at least phase one built." At almost an acre it's a "pretty aggressive plan."

Laura Raymond, Project Coordinator for the Dept. of Neighborhoods said, "We don't have an exact date because it's such a grassroots community project. In general we're doing the building this summer so probably the hope is that people could plant a fall cover crop or plant a winter garden."

As an ethnically diverse garden that reflects the cultures of those doing the gardening the organizers will help people find crops and varieties of plants that will both grow here in Seattle and be part of the heritage they represent.

To learn more about the P-Patch program visit www.seattle.gov/neighbhorhoods/ppatch/

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