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OK, Cal Anderson Park is not **technically** open while CHOP clean-up continues — but somebody needs to water the protest gardens

Cal Anderson Park is open — depending on which entrance you use and your willingness to be hustled off by a Seattle Parks work crew or a Seattle Police officer. After all, somebody needs to water the CHOP garden plots.

CHS reported earlier this week on the repair and clean-up work underway to restore E Pine and Cal Anderson — and some of the unintended consequences of good intentions leaving Black Life Matters organizers with a bad feeling about the city’s commitment to meeting the goals of the movement.

Seattle Parks has responded to make it clear that Cal Anderson is still not technically open to the public.

“The park remains closed for the time being,” a spokesperson tells CHS. “Our crews have at least another week (maybe two) of work to do—repair damage to the shelterhouse and restroom, repairing the irrigation system, and further repairs and professional sanitation of the turf field, along with additional graffiti removal.” The city says it is also working to preserve some of the CHOP art and “memorialize aspects of the community protests at Cal Anderson park, such as a garden, art and/ or speaker’s corner.”

CHS has found the park in use by neighbors and visitors out for a walk or taking dogs for a romp. We’ve also heard from a few people asked to leave the park by police — some, gasp, mid-picnic.

Some residents will need to access the space. Seattle Parks is telling neighbors that the community garden plots established by urban farmer Marcus Henderson in the park during the weeks of CHOP occupation and camping won’t be maintained by city staff.

“The current plan is to leave the garden in place until the late summer/fall harvest, and then work with Marcus and interested community on a longer-term plan,” the parks representative tells CHS.

The city has been reported watering some of the plots — and we’ve seen a few volunteer efforts from city employees — but residents are being encouraged to help take care of the plots.

Meanwhile, more substantial — but perhaps less unpleasant — work will be taking place at Seattle City Hall Wednesday, where the City Council’s budget committee will dig in on a core element of CHOP demands — the fight to defund SPD and cut the policing budget in Seattle by 50%.

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19 thoughts on “OK, Cal Anderson Park is not **technically** open while CHOP clean-up continues — but somebody needs to water the protest gardens

  1. Nope. Sorry. Gardens have got to go. I’m a resident and don’t care about someone else’s illegal use of the land. I’d rather restore the grass so the community can have movie nights in the park again. This annoys me to no end.

    And yeah, for those residents who are ignoring the HUGE red Park Closed signs, you are part of the problem that caused the CHOP to begin with. This attitude of “it doesn’t apply to ME, I’ll just do what I want. Surely I’m not a problem.” is ignorant of the law and what the system needs to do to correct things. The signs say stay out. The police and city say stay out. Dear gawd, get past your own needs and please pay attention so they can clean things up and the rest of us can get back in and enjoy it when it reopens.

    • Do you approve of other P-Patch programs/plots in gardens around Seattle?

      Why can’t we create a P-Patch in Cal Anderson and still have the movie nights? There’s very cleary enough room for both.

      • Because the park is on top of a drinking water storage tank – this in itself is not a complete prohibition of any plantings on the site, but it does mean that there can be no fertilizers – especially no poop or nitrate based ones… or pesticides – not even ‘safe’ or ‘organic’ ones – used on the site. This prohibition would mean fairly poor prospects for producing any meaningful amount of food on the site nor would it even provide a particularly good area for an example garden. Compost alone simply won’t provide what’s really needed.

      • The parks are intended to be used and available to everyone. P Patches are not available to everyone. They are divided into little plots used by individuals, which prevents others from using that land as intended. Create more P Patches, but do not use the public parks for them.

      • Because the park is on top of a drinking water storage tank – this in itself is not a complete prohibition of any plantings on the site, but it does mean that there can be no fertilizers – especially no poop or nitrate based ones… or pesticides – not even ‘safe’ or ‘organic’ ones – used on the site. This prohibition would mean fairly poor prospects for producing any meaningful amount of food on the site nor would it even provide a particularly good area for an example garden. Compost alone simply won’t provide what’s really needed.

        I think we’re splitting hairs at this point.

        I’ve had a very successful garden in my yard for over a decade with no fertilizers. The only thing I’ve ever put in it is prepackaged compost and the occasional slug bait (which I could do without).

        If you’re talking feeding thousands of people, then yeah, fertilizer may be needed to increase crop yields. P-patches are not meant to feed thousands of people.

        Also, I would seriously hope that SPU has capped the reservoir in a way that prevents soil leachates from reaching the reservoir water, so I’m not certain a fertilizer ban would even be warranted.

    • Agree! The garden is likely to be underused and neglected over the long run. Seattle already has an extensive system of p-patches, including several on Capitol Hill.

  2. Good to know that I can go to any public park and establish my own P-Patch….and then ask nearby residents to take care of them if I’m not available!

  3. Once upon a time there was a Friends of the Park group who maintained the the now feral flower beds at the Northern entrances. Why not reclaim these beds to memorialize Chop and return the lawn to it’s semi maintained soggy patchy function as a gathering space?

    • What is there to memorialize of an occupation of our neighborhood that brought with it large crowds during a pandemic, graffiti, trash, excessive noise and traffic 24/7, armed vigilantes, rape and murder? It was so traumatic I’ll never forget it.

      Good riddance CHOP.

      • But is that really so different from day-to-day life in Capitol Hill — other than the intensity being turned up for a few weeks?

      • Eli – I keep hearing this talking point and let me say as someone who has lived here for decades, yes, yes and yes. It was different than normal. There were 5 nights of gunfire over a 10 day period that resulted in 2 young black men dying. It was all blocks from where I live and was terrifying. That’s just one thing that happened, there were many others. It was like living in a war zone, nothing typical about it. I don’t appreciate the people who are trying to minimize or deny all the crime and trauma the neighborhood was subjected to during CHOP. I started out in support of the protesters and ended up extremely grateful when the police returned and restored the neighborhood.

  4. Ok, so establishing a garden that could potentially support individuals w/o access to healthy food is seen as an act of self-entitlement and the use of poop or nitrate based fertilizers is a no-go because the park is located on top of a drinking water storage tank. Alright then, following that logic, I’m sure you’re all ok with banning those countless dog-owners walking around Cal Anderson and who choose to not clean up after their loved one’s…

    • I hope you weren’t expecting me to object – Hell, yes – every self centered jerk who doesn’t clean up after their precious pooch should get a ticket and be banned from the park – as should the ones who run their doggies off leash there and the ones who allow their 4 legged friends to splash around in the water feature – the one with the signs all over it expressly forbidding that…

      And a few raised beds in the park isn’t going to feed anyone….

      1)I would bet that Fairly Obvious is fairly exaggerating that he has a very successful fertilizer free garden – food is very intensive to grow- it depletes soil nutrients pretty fast… successful is probably much like most parking strip raised beds – a few manky tomatoes that are barely able to get ripe and some greens and his bagged compost probably does contain some poop unless it’s the Cedar Grove without any manure… Without some pretty intensive interventions little other than greens and peas will simply grow in any decent quantities here.

      2) A few raised beds in Cal Anderson simply isn’t going produce enough to feed anyone. It takes about 1.5 acres to feed one person for one year. Even if you could dig up *all* of the park and plant it with food, you might supplement a couple of people with a few fresh veggies for a few weeks to a few months of the year… The amount of beds that are there won’t give you much of anything – probably not even enough at all at once to make a meal out of…. I have a couple of raised beds that I fill with just a few things – because in order to get enough to do anything with you have to have a fair number of plants. My husband’s family – who actually had a farm, would plant 3 acres just to have corn, green beans, potatoes and tomatoes, for themselves, his grandparents and a sibling’s family – much of which would be frozen or canned to last over the winter – because fresh veggies would actually be cheaper to buy at the store during the summer when all the local farms had an abundance…. Having a little P-patch plot can be fun- it’s neat to be able to eat what you grow – you can grow something hard to find in stores – but it doesn’t really feed you… not by a long shot, and what you have to put into it in amendments and plants – if you cannot grow from seed, can be nearly or even more expensive than just buying for what you get in the end- because an actual farm is simply more efficient…

      If you can do community farming on a very large scale – like in Detroit where entire blocks have been knocked down and turned into food production, you might have a shot at really feeding some people – but here- we don’t have enough land available – not by a long shot. I’m not disparaging what P-patch gardens can do – they can teach, they can bring joy, but to expect them to seriously feed people – pipe dream.

      • CD Neighbor is exactly right on what about you can expect from tiny urban gardening plots, as well as the enjoyment and learning that small urban gardening plots can provide. If you want to feed someone an efficient way to do so is have them stop by one of the many foodbanks in this city, or one of the many meal programs. As for urban gardening there is the Thomas Street P-patch nearby though I understand there is likely a waiting list for plots. If you want to start new P-patch sites or urban garden sites – maybe ones that serve Black residents – that is a great conversation to be having. There may be better and/or bigger sites available.

      • It’s a PARK.
        There’s no Illegal use if we’re in agreement on that use.
        Most p-patch gardens utility is not to provide great amounts of food but to provide great access to the natural world for people existing in concrete boxes.
        Raising food or, god forbid, mere useless flowers is a link to our ancestors of a 100 generations.
        That you’re so alienated from appreciating this and would tear it up to watch movies, saddens and worries me. It seems there are sufficient ways to see movies and not enough places like this garden in the neighborhood. It’s a small space. There are spaces to the south 40-50 times it devoted to the high arts of propelling various balls through the air!
        Leaving access to the natural world and our heritage as gardeners out of our urban life leads to alienation which ruins our HUMAN relationships. Another source of racism and misogyny.

      • Of course there are illegal uses of a park…. don’t be silly – and planting things and building raised beds in one without permission is most certainly illegal… By your logic I could go down and build a house – because hey it’s a park – there’s no illegal use…

        If you want to do things like create a new P-Patch, there’s a process for it. When you just go ahead and do what you want, you’ve really not got a leg to stand on to be outraged when what you’ve done is undone….

        Oh – and to Fairly Obvious – It was directly from the parks department who was quoted in another article as having spoken with the people who put the gardens in about not using any fertilizers because it’s over a water supply came from… I wasn’t making a supposition or making things up.

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