This Seattle Urban Farmer Wants Less Grass, More Vegetables

By Amanda Sallay, Advancement Services Manager

Johnson, Chelsie_2015 Tilth Coop & Farm Tour_62.jpg-19654556092Deb Schwartzkopf knows a good yard when she sees one.

Johnson, Chelsie_2015 Tilth Coop & Farm Tour_47.jpg-19039139174Moving in to her White Center home four years ago, she saw the potential for plants and livestock almost immediately — so immediately that she planted a raised bed before moving her furniture.

Ceramistas Seattle, the name of her garden and ceramics studio, presents an ideal example of artful garden-to-table living, with a clever coop design, chicken foraging area, art-infused raised beds and edible fruit landscaping. Veggies from the garden are often wood-fired in a hand-built pizza oven. The front yard is planted for four-season beauty with perennials and a deep shade garden.

We talked with Deb about Ceramistas Seattle, which will be featured in Seattle Tilth’s Chicken Coop & Urban Farm Tour on July 16, a self-guided tour of urban farms around the city.

How has Ceramistas urban farm evolved?

We’re new homeowners, and this will be our fourth summer in the house. I got chickens the first winter. This is the first place I have been able to install permanent beds, trellises, asparagus and trees. Everything was covered in bindweed and ivy, in fact we’re still pulling it out. We’ve planted seven fruit trees and installed numerous raised beds.

How did you learn how to grow your own food?

Both of my grandmothers gardened a lot. It seemed to have high value for their day-to-day lives, which was really inspiring. Since I work at home, the garden is a place for me to slow down and take a calming break. I’m particularly interested in seeing the small changes, like asparagus emerging and flowers slowly blooming.

What motivated you to raise chickens?

They are really entertaining animals, and add a lot of personality to our yard! The daily clucking makes the yard feel welcoming. Plus, the compost is a huge benefit to our garden because it is so nutrient-rich. I’m considering using the chickens for meat, but it would be a dilemma since I care a lot about them.

What is your favorite thing to grow?

Mexican sour gherkins! You hardly have to clean them and they are already perfect for a salad.

Why do you think urban farming is on the rise in Seattle?

People are more concerned about having healthy food. Everyone is creative and gardening can be a creative outlet. People are seeking to make things with their hands more.

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What’s next for your urban farm?

I really want to get honey bees and get rid of grass and turn it into other things. Less grass, more vegetables and trees.

Seattle Tilth’s
Chicken Coop & Urban Farm Tour

Saturday, July 16; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

cooptour-event-2016You can visit Ceramistas Seattle and learn more about what it takes to raise chickens in the city and how to start your own urban farm by attending Seattle Tilth’s Chicken Coop & Urban Farm Tour on Saturday, July 16. Fun for the whole family, this self-guided tour showcases some of Seattle’s coolest urban farms and gardens. Learn more and buy tickets today!


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