Every once in a while there’s an unexpected positive in the midst of negative impacts like those of the current recession. Seattle’s gardeners will benefit because the City projected inflation rates that were higher than have actually been experienced when the Council developed the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy. A lower inflation rate associated with the recession has meant that $427,000 reserved to cover inflated costs can instead be spent on projects.
And the City will spend it frugally, effectively, and in harmony with the City’s burgeoning interest in local food to develop approximately 115 new P-Patch community garden plots. The funds will also be used to add 14,500 square feet of land to the Marra Farm Large Tract Project for low -income households and to create new urban agriculture sites on city-owned land in Squire Park.
The 2008 voter approved Parks and Green Spaces Levy earmarked $2 million to build four additional P-Patch community gardens. We planned to purchase land, and budgeted for the expected cost of new property. However, as a result of significant community involvement and the use of existing City property, by 2014 there will be 17 new gardens, and, in addition, five existing gardens will be expanded. It’s a great example of creative staff work and efficient government making the people’s money go farther!
Along with the new p-patch spaces, the added area at Marra Farm will double the size of the site and provide additional gardening space for three low-income farmers, and there will be two new sites at Squire Park. The sites at Marra Farm provide opportunities for low income families to grow some of their own food, and to become more self-sufficient through marketing their surplus production.
It is great for our community that we can expand opportunities for urban gardeners and farmers and continue to strengthen the P-Patch Program. These will help meet the high demand for fresh, organic, and local food in Seattle households. We can be proud that Seattle’s P-Patch Community Gardening Program now manages 81 gardens with 2650 plots and serves 6100 gardeners across the city, making it the second largest community garden program in the country (after New York City, which has ten times our population!).