Construction Nears Completion at Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands

By Liza Burke, Communications and Marketing Director

The New Buildings at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and WetlandsWith major construction nearing completion, we’re excited to report the farm looks amazing! It’s been about a year since big equipment rolled in and began digging up the site and we’re beyond thrilled to see the jewel that is emerging. Although the farm is not open to the public yet, we understand from the construction project team that we’re getting closer every day. Think of it as a delicious, slow-cooked meal — it might seem to take forever, but it’s well worth the wait!

It will be a few weeks before staff can begin moving in to the buildings and assessing the site to make it safe, secure and functional. On the punch list: move in and set up computers, phones, furniture, equipment, tools and supplies; get re-acquainted with the site, learn how to use the facilities and trouble-shoot any problems for safety and functionality; make program plans and a planting calendar for the farm; continue volunteer work parties on Fridays and Saturdays to prepare the site for programs; plan a community celebration; and coordinate with partners throughout.

A celebration to welcome the whole community will be planned for next spring. It will include tours of the farm, festivities and activities for the whole family. If you’d like to join as a vendor or help plan the farm celebration, please email events@tilthalliance.org. If you’re interested in program underwriting or sponsorship support, please email sherylwiser@tilthalliance.org.

We can’t wait to see the farm humming with activity, bustling with people and bursting with crops! It will be fantastic to provide one of the anchors for the Rainier Beach Food Innovation District, and help increase education, resources and opportunities in healthy food, urban farming as well as environmental stewardship, for and with the Rainier Beach community. This time next year, we expect the farm occupied most days of the week by students of all ages and community volunteers, the classroom filled with engaged learners and delicious foods, and the farm stand to be stacked high with colorful produce grown on site by the community, feeding the community. We are grateful for the many supporters, donors, volunteers and community partners who have helped bring the farm to life — here’s to a bright future for the farm and community!

Construction Update

Great things have been accomplished in this year of construction and site improvements (read  about breaking ground). The new classroom is beautiful with a cantilevered roof that streams in sunshine and fresh air. This building will allow people to gather in a modern indoor setting, with a commercial kitchen, directly next to an 8-acre urban farm. It still needs furniture and work on appliances and cabinets, but it’s getting there and will be a dream come true when done!

An office with a wheelchair accessible ramp will provide a secure space to run the administrative side of the farm — quite an improvement from the former office shed! The outdoor gathering spaces, such as the covered patio and amphitheater, will facilitate outdoor learning for larger groups. The greenhouses are now impressively sturdy and will do wonders heating and protecting crops. We’re grateful to Berger Partnership, A-1 Construction, CAST Architects for their talents and steady work on this exciting project, and to the many donors and supporters who made it posisble.

 

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Volunteers Move Mountains (of Bindweed)

The abundant sunshine this summer has helped plants, both weedy and welcome, grow like crazy. More than 840 volunteers have pitched in since May working nearly 2000 hours — thank you all for your hard work and dedication! We have removed hundreds of pounds of bindweed (!), cleaned out House 2, removed almost all of the landscaping fabric in the wetlands and completed sheet mulching the entire food forest. Other highlights and shout outs include:

  • The amazing African elders, along with hard working neighborhood volunteers, mulch, weed and maintain the wetlands every week. More volunteers are needed and welcome to join! (See below.)
  • Eighth graders from South Shore School worked with University of Washington graduate students on a design/build project. They built benches and raised beds, installed rain chains and mini rain gardens, planted dresser drawer planting boxes, and built bird and bat boxes.
  • Artists Jean Whitesavage and Nick Lyle installed beautiful metal wetlands markers around the site to demarcate the wetlands area.
  • Seattle Works supported the farm by helping host a group of nearly 300 volunteers, helping us stay on top of summer weeds and begin preparing the site for programming. Fantastic volunteer teams have also pitched in from SoftChoice, Boston Consulting Group, Microsoft (Intern Day of Caring), as well as South Shore School, Rainier Beach High School and Lakeside LEEP.
  • Artist Mette Hanson created and installed art to acknowledge the many generous donors who made the construction and site improvements possible.

Lend a Hand: Volunteer at the Farm

Want to get involved? Volunteers are welcome and needed to join drop-in work parties to help get the farm ready for spring 2018! Join us on Fridays, 10 a.m.-noon and Saturdays, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Enter through the gate at Beer Sheva park (8650 55th Ave S). You can just show up, but RSVPs are appreciated. RSVP here.

 

 

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