Parks Department Embraces Local Food Actions

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Rainier Beach Urban Farm logo

On Saturday, October 1, the Parks Department and community partners officially broke ground on the Rainier Beach Urban Farm, which will transform the seven acres of the former Atlantic City Nursery into a working organic urban farm and demonstration wetlands restoration site.  The Parks Department nursery was closed in January, 2010.  Seattle Tilth and the Friends of the Atlantic City Nursery will jointly develop and operate the site, which is funded by $500,000 from the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy and $50,000 from the Neighborhood Matching Fund.

Atlantic City Nursery (in SE Seattle)

The Rainier Beach Urban Farm is one very visible part of a major commitment by the Parks Department to the Local Food Action Initiative.  Parks Department employees, organized as the Parks Urban Food Systems (PUFS) Committee, have adopted the following objectives:

  1. Promote equitable production of food on Parks property.
  2. Promote equitable distribution and access to healthy foods for Parks participants and surrounding community.
  3. Provide programming that teaches and encourages the consumption of healthy foods.
  4. Provide recycling programs and services that divert Parks facility waste.
  5. Insure programming and strategies are integrated with the community being served.
  6. Insure strategies are financially sustainable.
  7. Promote environmentally sustainable practices.

A series of action steps are being taken in 2011-2012 to implement these objectives, including:

  • Developing 7 garden sites at Community Centers.
  • Creating an Urban Fruit Tree stewardship program to care for existing trees in five orchards on Parks property.
  • Developing drop off sites for community supported agriculture (CSA) at community centers around the City.
  • Converting all vending machines in Parks facilities to healthy food options.
  • Creating linkages with local food sources to provide healthy foods at low cost for Community Center participants.
  • Teaching and encouraging the consumption of healthy foods through a Top Chef Competition for teens and implementing 5 Community Kitchen programs at Community Centers.
  • Participating in food waste recycling at special events and Community Centers.
  • Developing a Peoples Garden Site with an underserved ethnic community.
  • Allowing the sale of products produced on Parks property.
  • Developing Best Management Practices for Urban Agriculture on Parks land.

It is terrific to see one of our largest Departments, and the steward of so much of Seattle’s land, move into local food work with such great enthusiasm.  I am confident that they will succeed in achieving these great goals!