As the main growing season draws to a close and the gardens are transforming for the cooler months, it feels like an appropriate time to pause and appreciate all of the work that volunteers for Tilth Alliance have put into the gardens, farm, and wetlands this year. We are fortunate to work with so many dedicated community members who help us accomplish so much in our mission to create a better food future. Keep reading for a look at some of what we have achieved together.
135 volunteers pledged over 3,000 hours to help the Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands (who are volunteers themselves) secure a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant to renovate the farm’s greenhouses. Volunteers have cleared and prepared the greenhouses and will build raised beds and propagation tables as the greenhouses are retrofitted with solar power and a functional ventilation system. By late spring, plant starts will be growing for Tilth Alliance programs and several community partners. This project depended on volunteer commitment – we put out the call and our community came through!
Over 400 volunteers helped operate the Edible Plant Sale, our largest fundraiser of the year. Together, we sold or donated over 60,000 sustainably-grown plant starts to home and community gardens around Puget Sound. Proceeds support Tilth Alliance’s programming throughout the year, so volunteers’ efforts reap rewards that truly support every aspect of our work.
At all of our farm and garden locations, including the Good Shepherd Center gardens and Bradner Gardens Park, volunteers harvested produce for local food banks, a vital contribution to our local food system. At the McAuliffe Park Learning Garden, students from Juanita High School’s Garden Club not only helped grow and harvest produce for Hopelink’s Kirkland/Northshore Food Bank, but also learned how sustainable agriculture can help combat climate change. (Check out this recent KIRO 7 segment on the students’ work!) We are so inspired by these teens!
At Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, individuals and small groups, including families, have come to the farm weekly to do everything from weeding to wetland restoration to special stewardship projects. Volunteers worked with Garden Hotline educators to plant, weed, and mulch the pollinator hillside – a small swath of land that provides valuable habitat and food sources for all of the beneficial pollinators that help make the farm’s flowering fruits and vegetables so productive. The East African Elders, a vital part of the farm’s community, invited volunteers to join them for lunch – always a treat!
With just a couple of volunteers at a time, the Good Food Bag program has packed and distributed over 27,000 bags of fresh, locally grown produce to seniors, preschoolers, and their families. Regular volunteers make so much happen.
Nearly 70 volunteers supported the Rainier Beach Harvest Festival, making it a fantastic outdoor gathering of over 750 people celebrating the harvest, the farm, and our community in Rainier Beach. Volunteers helped with everything from setting up tables and tents, to greeting visitors and assisting with crafts and cooking demonstrations. Even when the beautiful weather gave way to a sudden downpour, hardy and good-natured volunteers stuck it out.
Those employed at companies who support volunteering have submitted your hours for a financial match or used work community hours for their volunteering. We appreciate this extra level of giving!
Due to the ongoing pandemic, we have continued to limit volunteer numbers and everyone has worked within the COVID safety protocols on site. Thank you for helping keep yourself, fellow volunteers, our staff and community safe.
Quite simply, we could not do this work without our volunteers! And while we have wrapped up some seasonal work, there are more volunteer opportunities and community events coming through the fall and winter, so stay tuned!