If you’ve been walking around The Shores lately, you may have noticed this wonderful little garden sprouting on Harvard, just off Olive Way. Its amazingly well constructed. Nice little rows of plants surrounded by a brick border. I was curious about who started this project and finally got a hold of Nathan, one of the gardeners of the plot. Nate gave me the skinny on how this beautiful bed of sustainability came to be.
The group that is tending the garden along Harvard Ave between Denny and Olive is a small collective of people that were organized by a woman who put a post on Craigslist. The request was for people looking to utilize public and unused land in our local neighborhoods for growing produce. We met in late feb on a weeknight at Remedy Tea. There were 7 people who, with the exception of 2 couples had never met before that evening. The idea was originally to build a series of these gardens. However, we had difficulty obtaining permission to use some of the private land we had scouted. Eventually we just went ahead and broke ground (I think in early march) at the Harvard site just to get things going.
The bricks surrounding the little plots were donated from the Sound Transit demolitions on Broadway, so at least those old buildings haven’t entirely left the neighborhood. The majority of the 4 plots are dedicated to salad greens but they are also growing radishes, beets, a few onions, basil, broccoli, peas, beans, cucumber, peppers (hot and sweet), and 2 varieties of tomato.
I asked Nate if they had any problems with vandalism and he said there have only been a few instances of people breaking plants or throwing the bricks. The biggest concern has been water. “Currently, I am bringing water over there 1-2x almost every day.” Nate said, “I have 2 7 gallon water containers that I fill in my shower and carry down in the mornings in my car as i head to work, but in the evenings I foot it and just use muscle for the 2 blocks.”
This little garden is an inspiration to us all. Remember, the city waived permits for planting strip gardens back in May, so none of us have excuses for not following the Harvard Ave Collective. If you need some tips on how to get started just head down there in the evening and you’ll probably spot Nate or some of the others tending the vegetables. I’m sure they would be happy to share their knowledge, especially for a few gallons of water.