by Carolyn Bick
Beneath a tent along the little lane at the back of South Estelle Street, children painted freshly picked pumpkins, as others eagerly fed and petted chickens in a mobile coop a few feet away. Though neither the coop nor the tent were permanent, greenery surrounding the was: the lane is the site of Wetmore Community Farm, and Saturday saw the farm’s official grand opening.
Run by Alleycat Acres, the free community farm has been open since 2015, but, as Farm Coordinator and Program Director Kyla Rudnick explained, this year marked the end of any major projects on or clearing of the land.
The City of Seattle grant-funded farm originally opened, because a family who lived next door was tired of seeing the derelict land and got in contact with the organization.
“We started holding community meetings in the neighborhood to see if people were interested in a community garden, and what they wanted to do with the space and went from there,” Rudnick said. “We’ve been holding events here for about three years. … Now, we just have some more planting to do, and start maintaining the site.”
The farm is run in partnership with the Rainier Valley Food Bank, Senior Housing Assistance Group, the Downtown Emergency Service Center, and Stone Soup Gardens. In the years to come, Rudnick said they hope to get more of the community itself involved. Having the space serve as a community garden is important, she said, because there isn’t any green space like it in the immediate area. While that isn’t necessarily a problem for younger people, it can be a problem for seniors.
“We have a lot of senior citizens who live in the neighborhood, so having that green space where they can walk is really important,” Rudnick said. “Of course, all the food that we grow here is going directly to neighbors. … There are grocery stores around here, but having free, fresh produce is, of course, a boon to any neighborhood, and especially here, where we have such a dense neighborhood.”
Garden neighbor Plekeo Douangdara said she and her husband enjoy gardening, and that she walks around the community garden “all the time.” She’s been gardening for 30 years, she said, and is excited to contribute seeds and plants to the space.
“I have a lot of seeds, like Asian corn, Asian pumpkin, eggplants,” Douangdara said. “She said, ‘Okay, you can plant!’ … Very cool. Before, nobody wanted to go in here … but this year and last year is better.”
Featured Photo: A group of children paints freshly harvested pumpkins, during Alleycat Acres’ official opening of Wetmore Community Farm on South Estelle Street in Seattle, Washington, on Oct. 13, 2018. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)