by Susan Fried
More than 800 people visited the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands Saturday, July 21, for the inaugural Farm Fest, a celebration and opportunity to see some of the improvements Seattle’s largest urban farm has gone through over the last year following the construction of a new kitchen, office, and classroom spaces and updates to the farm and nature trail.
Participants got their hands dirty planting different types of edible plants, creating garlands, and getting up close and personal with worms from the worm bin. There was live music and dance performances, cooking demonstrations and an opportunity to meet some visiting goats. The event gave the community a chance to see how the farm and wetlands contribute to making Rainier Beach one of Seattle’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
Founders Harry Hoffman and Peter Masundire conceived the idea of the farm in 2009. They wanted to convert what had been the Atlantic City Nursery, a propagation nursery used by the the City of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, into an urban farm for the Rainier Beach community. The City of Seattle owns the land, but the Tilth Alliance and Friends of the Rainier Beach Urban Farm manage the land.
Parts of the farm closed for remodeling in 2016. Before it closed, the farm donated food to the Rainier Valley Food Bank, the Community Kitchen Program, the Senior Meals Program, and the Tiny Tots Good Food Program. Once the farm is up and running at full capacity, many of these programs will continue.
“Our vision for the farm extends beyond just growing food, it represents a cornerstone toward access to quality food sources and food security in Southeast Seattle, in particular the Rainier Beach community,” said David Reyes, a board member of Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. “Beyond being a physical space and beautiful place of nature, the farm has become a catalyst for social change in Rainier Beach, inspiring and engaging community members as well as empowering local youth to become advocates for the health and well-being of our community. The farm is also a crossroads of sorts for the community to come together in fellowship and in celebration of our diversity and identity as Rainier Beach.”
Featured image is of Dance Brazil performing a traditional Brazilian dance.