UW Combined Fund Drive

April 12, 2021

Dig into Earth Month: Urban Gardening for the Earth

A community P-Patch in Seattle

The sun is shining and encouraging us to get outside. As we shake of the gloom of Seattle winters, spring kicks off one of the best seasons in the Pacific Northwest: growing season!

We watch the cherry blossoms flourish on UW’s campus while the UW Farm is hard at work tending to the produce that will be shared in their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which donates fresh produce to organizations including FareStart, U District Food Bank and the Husky Food Pantry. The UW Farm is open everyday from dawn to dusk and is free to visit – as well as being a part of the UWCFD!

Soon, farmers markets will burst with yummy produce and our streets will be rainbows made of flowers. Whether you have a large yard to play in or a cozy apartment, there are many ways to get your hands dirty with urban gardening.

Seattle Farmers Markets 

Seattle’s history with public markets is rich and spans over a century. Over the decades, the public would flock to public markets for their high-quality and locally produced foods and goods. For over 25 years, the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets, Seattle Farmers Market Associations and independent neighborhoods expanded the reach of the historic and central Pike Place Market. From late spring through the fall, neighborhood markets pop up once a week as a venue for community gathering, education, and the opportunity to support local artisans and farmers.  

Farmers markets are also major advocates for small farmers and food justice. One program available at participating neighborhood markets is Fresh Bucks, vouchers for eligible and enrolled supplemental nutrition assistance program participants to buy fresh produce. Many farmers markets even double the voucher amount as part of the SNAP Market Match! For more information or to receive your benefits, visit the information booth at your neighborhood farmers market.  

Whether visiting the flagship public market, Pike Place, or one of the dozen neighborhood markets, you will be excited by the bounty and craft available in Washington. To find the closest farmers market, check out Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets or Seattle Farmers Market Association. 

Year Round Farmers Markets: 

  • Saturday – University District 
  • Sunday – Ballard, West Seattle, Capitol Hill  

Why Garden?

There are many benefits to gardening[1]. Indoor or outside, caring for plants can reduce stress and increase happiness thanks to a healthy bacteria that lives in soil called M. vaccae! Gardening outside is a great way to get Vitamin D from the sun. Just remember your sunscreen and a hat to keep yourself safe. Gardening is a great family friendly activity that can teach responsibility, is great for hand and cardiovascular health, and builds healthy relationships with food. Eating the vegetables and fruit you had a hand in growing is exciting!

Turning Your Thumb Green

Early spring is a time to clean up and plant, but knowing what kind of soil, how much water, and the amount of direct light a plant needs can be intimidating. Across the internet and the region there are resources ranging from video to textbooks about gardening. King County offers many How-To articles and a guide to native plants. Thurston County has information on how to manage the difficulties of growing a garden in a smart and safe way. Swanson’s Nursery, located in the North Beach/Blue Ridge neighborhood of Seattle, offers resources for Gardening 101.

Nestled in neighborhoods across Seattle are P-Patches. Established in 1973, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods created space for community gardening. The community gardens nurture civic engagement; help people connect with each other and nature; improve access to local, organic, and culturally appropriate food; and are a source of food for the hungry. Learn more here.

Sustainable Gardening  

Here are some tips we gathered to help you green thumb be super green and sustainable: 

  • Say “No” to herbicides: Tend to your garden by pulling out weeds yourself, or having kids play in the dirt! 
  • Celebrate native plants: Did you know that native plants have an effect on the native insect population? When you pick your plants, try planting blue elderberry, clustered wild rose, evergreen huckleberry or camas (Camassia quamash). 
  • Creative tags : Consider using wood to label your garden. Popsicle sticks or shaved-off twigs would be great! 
  • Plan your garden intentionally: Designing your garden to best fit the watering and sunlight needs of your plants can help you better maintain your garden.  
  • Compost and Conserve: The city of Seattle offers yard waste composting – easy fix! 
  • Consider ways to store rain or runoff water that can be used in your garden.  

For more tips, guides, and idea, check out this great resource “Getting Started with Native Plans in Seattle and Bellevue”. 

Nonprofit Spotlight: Tilth Alliance

Tilth Alliance works in community with Washington farmers, gardeners and eaters to build a sustainable, healthy and equitable food future. Focused on each step of growing process, Tilth Alliance offers programs on caring for the Earth, connecting with farmers, leaning how to garden, food access in markets, and what to do with the produce you have.

Programs and volunteer opportunities are available for all ages. Tilth Alliance is a great resource for direct questions. For over 20 years, the Garden Hotline educators have been providing information and guidance at no cost to home gardeners and landscape professionals.

Contact the Garden Hotline at (206) 633-0224, Monday through Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

To support Tilth Alliance, check out their website and give through the Combined Fund Drive, charity code 0335424.

[1] Dr. Hutchins, R. (2020 May 18). “8 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening”. UNC Health Talks. https://healthtalk.unchealthcare.org/health-benefits-of-gardening/

Contributed by Noam Soker, UWCFD Intern