Every Saturday from 10-3 the Rainier Beach Urban Farm hosts a community work party on their 10 acre property where they serve lunch and engage the volunteers in very rewarding work. On the last Saturday of June CAGJ joined up with the farm and about 10 other volunteers to work in one of the 5 greenhouses to weed and trim. We worked with their abundance of organic produce from tomatoes, lettuce and peas to blueberries, rainbow chard and strawberries.
The operations of an urban farm like Rainier Beach depend on support from the community. In fact, without community support, the farm would not exist today! The site on which the farm stands was previously a nursery and after it shut down, the surrounding neighborhood came together develop the space into an urban farm. Then with a lot of help from the Seattle Parks Department and Seattle Tilth the rainier Beach Urban farm came into existence in 2010.
Since then the community has been hard at work restoring the land, getting rid of invasive species and building green houses. It is only recently that the farm has begun to produce, but they are already making an impact. The farm strives to provide healthy food for everyone, irrespective of income. In the last year the Rainier Beach Urban farm has donated 20,000 pounds of fresh produce to local shelters and community and senior centers. One of the ways they make their produce affordable is through a subsidized program where people can buy a bag of farm fresh vegetables for $5. The farm is also involved in a CSA and their own community membership program.
The Rainier Beach Urban Farm is welcoming to people of all experience and ages and committed to teaching admirable farming practices. In fact, the farm is focused on becoming an educational space in addition to a community garden. Already the farm has partnered with the local high school cooking club and offered internships, but more outreach is on the way. The farm has recently received a grant to build a large kitchen, classroom, and community meeting space so that it has the facilities to continue growing with the community interest. The farm also has plans to become more sustainable by building solar panels in addition to its reduced use in water because of the wetlands on either side of the property.
The very existence of this urban farm is proof that the city of Seattle is becoming more aware and active in the food justice movement.