UPDATE: The Department of Neighborhoods says ‘no’ to p-patch term limits:
Seattle Department of Neighborhoods has heard from many community members expressing concerns about changes to P-Patch operations that have been suggested by Department of Parks and Recreation for those P-Patch community gardens located on Parks’ property.
Over the past few months, Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, which manages the P-Patch Community Gardening Program, and Seattle Parks have been negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding for the operation of P-Patches on Parks Department properties (of the 71 P-Patches, 22 are on Parks property). A key concern has been over term limits on plots – The Parks Department is concerned about access to P-Patches and believe that long waitlists at some P-Patches restrict participation. Seattle Department of Neighborhoods knows that the fundamental strength and success of the P-Patch community gardens is community building and feels that term limits curb volunteer leadership and community building, both of which are essential to manage and maintain the gardens.
Mayor McGinn is very supportive of continued use of parks and other city properties for P-Patch community gardens and the commitment, leadership and stewardship that gardeners bring to public land. The issue is how to make more space available both for community gardening and generally for urban agriculture.
Based on a meeting on April 19 with Mayor McGinn and city staff, the following steps were reached about P-Patch community gardens located on Parks land:
1) DoN is to move forward with a strategic planning process as recommended in the 2009 P-Patch Evaluation. The planning process would address the challenges of demand and emerging opportunities around availability of gardening land for residents. This planning effort will engage directly with the public and P-Patch participants.
2) At this time, no operation or policy changes will be made regarding term limits on P-Patches located on Parks Department property.
3) DoN and Seattle Parks Department’s discussions around development of a Memorandum of Understanding will continue after completion of the strategic planning process.
Part of the excitement around the new Capitol Hill green spaces like Summit/John park goes beyond having a place to play and relax — some of you can’t wait to dig in, work hard and toil for Hill-grown food. Competition for a p-patch of land in Seattle’s city gardens is fierce. There are reports like this one from Publicola that City Hall is starting to look at ways to do something about the demand:
The city’s parks department is reportedly considering a plan to put term limits, perhaps as short as three years, on P-Patch garden plots on Parks-owned land, irking some P-Patch tenants who have maintained plots for years. (Twenty-two of the city’s 70 P-Patch gardens sit on Parks property.)
Here’s a TV report on the issue:
It’s early in the discussion but what do you think? Long-time gardeners are worried churning out dedicated p-patchers will weaken the system that depends on so much volunteer time and labor. Meanwhile, waitlisters — except for anybody near the top — are probably eager to dig in.