Growing food together in community nourishes our bodies, minds, environment and neighborhoods. Community gardens not only support our physical health by improving access to nutritious food and promoting physical activity, they also beautify our neighborhoods, build strong communities, and foster the next generation of environmental stewards. The ability to grow food within our urban core has become increasingly important as amplified population density, climate change, and natural disasters cause disruptions to our food system, as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. We must safeguard urban water and soil resources and bolster food security and sovereignty, especially in areas facing environmental health disparities and barriers to land and food access.
King County is a thriving area for community agriculture. More than 120 community agriculture projects exist throughout King County, not including the 91 Seattle P-Patches. These projects range from school gardens, church gardens, city parks, orchards, food forests, non-profits, communal farms, giving gardens, and more! They grow fruits, vegetables, herbs, native pollinator plants, and food for donation. Even with these, there is still a high demand for new growing spaces, especially in our densest urban center.
We offer expertise and resources to new gardens to get started, and existing gardens to grow and ensure long-term sustainability. Our services include free resources such as culturally relevant plant starts, compost, cover crop seed, and soil contaminant testing, as well as technical assistance, education, and Seed Money Grants.
If you’d like to request Community Agriculture resources, fill out the request form.
Tools and Resources
Culturally Relevant Plant Starts
KCD partners with Tilth Alliance and Seattle University to provide hard-to-find and rare cultural plant starts free-of-charge in the spring to gardens supporting immigrant, refugee, and BIPOC communities.
Compost improves soil structure and keeps nutrients in the ground and out of our waterways. It also boosts plant health and productivity!
KCD partners with Woodland Park Zoo to provide ZooDoo for free to community agriculture projects each spring. ZooDoo is a fully-composted blend of animal manure and bedding that creates a nutrient-rich and exotic compost, while diverting waste. This weed-seed-free, clean and consistent product helps to improve soil and grow healthy plants. Thank you to the rhinos, giraffes, hippopotamuses, zebras, and other zoo animals who contribute to this product.
GroCo™ compost is no longer being produced in partnership with King County. However, we look forward to being able to provide new Loop® compost products, made from organic materials in our wastewater in the future.
Cover Crop Seed
Using cover crops is an important way for gardeners and farmers to protect the soil over the winter and increase nutrients and organic matter in the soil. Roots hold soil in place and prevent nutrients from being washed away into our waterways. The biomass competes with weeds and contributes nutrients. And spring flowers make great food and habitat for pollinators. KCD provides free cover crop seeds to community agriculture programs each fall.
FREE Soil Nutrient Testing
KCD provides basic soil nutrient tests for residents and municipalities in our service area*. Community gardens are also eligible to test for additional soil contaminants, like lead and arsenic.
Interested in soil testing?
KCD staff can provide free technical support and advice to your community agriculture project relating to garden planning, best management practices, water and soil management, and other natural resource concerns. Ask an expert!
Seed Money Grants
Now accepting applications!
Seed Money Grants support the creation of new community agriculture projects and help sustain existing projects. In turn, this promotes resilient food systems and communities and safeguards food sovereignty. Project selection is based on potential for community impact, engagement of diverse groups, and natural resource stewardship. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis until September 30, 2024, or funds are exhausted.
KCD will fund eligible projects up to $3,500 based on proposed budget and market rates. KCD will purchase project supplies, equipment, and/or services and deliver them to community garden sites. Additionally, grantees can spend up to $500 of their award on garden or farming tools. Remaining funds will be reallocated to KCD for future projects. All projects must be completed no later than November 30, 2024.
A “Community Agriculture Project” includes community gardens, school gardens, faith-based gardens, non-profits, government entities, apartment complexes, or any group that is growing together for the benefit of the community.
Eligible projects include:
- Raised garden bed construction or repair
- Composting systems
- Micro (drip) irrigation
- Rainwater catchment
- Fruit tree/shrub plantings
- Fruit tree/shrub pruning
- Pollinator plantings
- Native plantings
- Invasive species removal/weed control
- Small greenhouse or hoophouse
- Soil amendments (top soil, lime, fertilizer, compost, etc.)
All projects require an initial site visit before funds are awarded, as well as a closeout site visit at the culmination of the project. Technical assistance and support can be provided on request.
Groups that currently hold a KCD grant are not eligible to apply for the same garden project.
Grant applications must be submitted through the online grant portal. You must have a username and password to log into the online grant portal. If you have applied for a grant from KCD before, contact us for your username and password. If you have not applied to a grant before, you will need to create a new account. The video below explains how to create an account and apply.
KCD Community Agriculture Conservation Resource Guide
Community groups, faith-based organizations, non-profits, schools and government entities can all expand access to healthy food while teaching important natural resource stewardship in the urban landscape. Along with providing a much-needed source of nourishing, locally grown food, urban gardens provide a wide range of benefits including
- soil, air, and water quality improvement
- stormwater management
- increased aesthetics
- education and recreational opportunities
- beneficial pollinator and wildlife habitat
- and an increased sense of belonging to a community.
KCD’s Community Ag Conservation Resource Guide offers step-by-step guidance for establishing an urban garden to help communities turn underutilized space into a productive community asset.
If you’re interested in Community Agriculture resources, complete our intake form:
If you have additional questions or comments, contact Miranda.Smith@kingcd.org or call 425-773-5060.