The King County Council aproved a plan that would create partnerships between the county and community groups that want to “till the soil.”
The County’s Community Garden Program Implementation Plan would give community groups access to county parcels that they would manage and cultivate for gardens.
“Throughout King County people are recognizing the health, environmental, and financial benefits of fresh, locally grown produce and turning to community gardening,” Councilmember Larry Phillips said, prime sponsor of the ordinance. “This legislation addresses the challenge of finding available land for community gardens in urban areas by providing access to suitable county property, putting these publicly-owned spaces to good use for communities.”
Community gardens are defined as any land that is gardened by a group of people, allowing citizens to grow their own food for themselves or for the community. Gardeners generally do not own the land, but are very active in the maintenance and management of the garden. Models of community gardens vary; some gardens are farmed collectively with everyone working together, others are spilt into individual plots.
Community gardens are a way for people who don’t own land, including apartment-dwellers, to produce fresh, local, organic produce at a very low cost. In addition to being an important food source for the families and organizations that farm them, community gardens have also become a source of local produce for the wider community—in 2009 the Interbay P-Patch alone donated over 5,000 pounds of produce to the local food bank. In the city of Seattle, over 2,000 people are on a waiting list for P-Patches.
The 2008 Comprehensive Plan required the executive to develop an inventory of county-owned or managed facilities and properties that could be feasible for use by community gardens. The initial inventory, done with the assistance of a team of students from the University of Washington’s Urban Planning Department, found that the county owns more than 2,000 parcels of land in urban areas. Of those parcels, 24 have been determined to be potential community gardens.