Programs > Community Agriculture Program

Community Agriculture Program

urban agriculture planterIn 2015, King Conservation District (KCD) launched a new Community Agriculture program across King County. The ability to grow food within our urban core has become increasingly important as we face the impacts of amplified population density, climate and weather pattern changes and the threat of natural disasters which may temporarily cut off our food supply.  Additionally, King County includes USDA-defined food deserts (see  http://www.ers.usda.gov/data/fooddesert for more information) and one in five children in King County are food insecure (defined as reduced quality, variety and desirability of diet-with or with reduced food intake).

Offering expertise and resources to schools, individuals, non-profits, and churches, KCD is helping expand access to healthy food and teaching important lessons on soil health, water quality, habitat, and natural resource stewardship in the urban landscape.

Utilizing the successful model of Pierce Conservation District’s Harvest Pierce County , KCD is working to support community-based urban agriculture through education, technical assistance, partner matchmaking, and help in identifying possible funding and other resources.

toolbox

KCD Tools and Resources

Hügelkultur – This ancient permaculture practice builds soil, creates increased and elevated planting area while keeping compostable materials out of landfills and burn piles.  Hügelkultur mounds are suitable for urban, rural, in-ground and container applications.   KCD offers hands on technical assistance to groups and organizations interested in creating hügel mounds.

small gardenMore information, including upcoming events and a Hügel Hunt map of sites across King County, can be found at:  KCD's Hügelkultur page.

 

Seed Money Grants – KCD has micro-capital startup money available to assist with 5 community garden projects annually through 2019.  These resources are available to assist in creating demonstration gardens to showcase the vision and community involvement of a proposed full-scale community garden.  Funds may be used for site plan design, implementation of an onsite demonstration garden (including materials for beds), garden tools, plant stock, marketing materials, signage, and community outreach events.  (Funds may not be used for acquisition of land.)

More information can be found here on qualifying community garden project criteria.

 

compost filled wheelbarrow with girl pushingFREE Compost for Qualifying King County Community Gardens – KCD in partnership with King County Loop® Biosolids invite King County community gardens to apply to receive FREE delivery and product of up to 10 yards of GroCo compost (made with Loop®).  Qualifying community gardens help meet the needs of underserved communities by improving access to healthy local food, parks and natural areas; help preserve healthy natural environments and create strong, vibrant neighborhoods.

Complete the application below and send to:  Melissa.Tatro@kingcd.org

Free CroCo Compost Application

 

 

 

 

garden planter boxFREE Cover Crop Seed – KCD recognizes the importance of cover cropping to improve soil health.  Cover crops protect soil from erosion and leaching of important nutrients and buffer against soil compaction during winter rains. Cover crops suppress weeds and provide habitat for native beneficial insects.

In Fall 2017, KCD launched a pilot program to make cover crop seed available to qualifying community gardens.  In 2018, KCD hopes to expand the program to backyard gardeners who have previously had a soil test completed and have taken steps to amend their soil based KCD provided soil test results.

More Information on the Benefits of Cover Cropping can be found here.

FREE Soil Testing - King Conservation District provides basic soil tests for all residents and municipalities in our service area. KCD’s soil testing program covers commercial farms, pastures, parks, home yards, and community gardens.  Interested in soil testing?  More information can be found here on how to take and submit a soil sample.

Urban Soil Map – KCD is developing a web-based soil map for King County to promote soil health. KCD encourages every gardener and farmer within our service area to conduct free soil testing using our program.  Current and future KCD soil test recipients will be invited to voluntarily have their location placed on the web-based soil map. The online map will be a way for existing and future community food projects to be identified and located by volunteers, donors, or other partners.

Volunteer Coordination – KCD can work to facilitate volunteer efforts to support community garden projects.

A Sampling of Community Gardens that Have Received KCD Assistance

Hillside Paradise Parking Plots Community Garden, Kent – Since 2016, King Conservation District has been partnering with World Relief to create a community garden on an acre of parking lot donated by Hillside Church at 930 East James in Kent.  The garden will be open for public use and easily accessible by over 1,000 immigrants and refugees settled in the area by World Relief.  Having a place to grow fresh, healthy, culturally relevant food is the goal of the Hillside Paradise Parking Plots Community Garden.

community garden plots

After creating a small demonstration project of 5 planted stock tanks, Hillside Community Garden has leveraged KCD’s Seed Money Grant into over $125,000 in additional grants, hundreds of volunteer hours from community supporters (including T-Mobile, Turner Construction and the 30/30 Project) and resource donations (from Cedar Grove Compost, McLendon’s Hardware and Home Depot).  In just over one year’s time, Hillside moved from concept to a viable community garden with 44 garden plots seeded with cover crop and awaiting gardeners for Spring 2018 planting.

fresh picked vegetablesCitySoil Farm, Renton –   CitySoil Farm is a 1.5-acre learning and giving garden located at the King County South Treatment Plant in Renton. KCD, King County Wastewater Treatment Division, Seattle Tilth, and DIRT Corps are collaborating to develop the farm to demonstrate the potential for more community food projects across King County.
CitySoil Farm incorporates the successful use of GroCo™ compost made with Loop® biosolids and reclaimed water for urban agriculture. The farm also provides volunteer and community education opportunities to expand knowledge of soil, food, and agriculture.

Watch a video about CitySoil Farm and Loop®

four people holding poster describing hugelcultureSea Mar Community Health Center, White Center -  In October 2017, KCD worked with Sea Mar Community Health in White Center to create a hügelkultur container garden which, along with other raised beds located on the property, provide teaching opportunities about healthy eating.

 

 

 

St. Columba/International Rescue Committee Community Garden, Kent/Des Moines -  KCD facilitated the volunteer efforts of columbia rescue committee des moinesover 40 National Student Leadership Conference attendants to lay cardboard and mulch in a large area in preparation for planting an orchard at International Rescue Committee’s community garden in Kent/Des Moines.

 

 

 

shark garden burienNew Start High School Shark Garden, Burien -  New Start High School is an alternative high school program in the Highline School district. Most students attending the program struggle to maintain positive attendance, behavior and progress toward high school completion.  The Shark Garden was started in 2015 in an undeveloped adjoining lot where a summer program allows students to earn high school credit by combining math curriculum with landscaping/gardening lessons.

The garden also is home to 53 community garden plots (including 20 which are ADA accessible), a greenhouse, berry and fruit forest and an outdoor teaching space.  A majority of the food raised at Shark Garden is donated to the White Center Food Bank.

Through KCD’s Urban Agriculture Program, Shark Garden received a donation of 10 yards of GroCo compost and 25 lbs of cover crop seed to amend the soil and help keep nutrients in place over the winter months.

Watch a 2016 King 5 segment on Burien's Shark Garden