“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.” - William Blake
by Kris Parfitt
- The Capitol Hill Times -
Organized by a University of Washington student in the 1970s yet inspired out of the need and desire for Seattle residents who did not have access to land to grow their own food, the concept of the P-Patch started at the Picardo Farm in the early 1920s. The Picardo family had a large amount of land that was more fertile for crops than other sandy areas of Seattle so they rented out small “patches” for families to till. The Seattle P-Patch Program, named after the Picardo Farm, is one of the largest community garden programs in the U.S. with over 89 patches.
Capitol Hill boasts six P-Patches, yet there are a plethora of other community gardens stealthily planted in parking strips of neighborhoods, front lawns of apartment buildings, abandoned lots, and small inconspicuous patches of unused earth.
Victory gardens, which were planted in the 1940s as a means to support the nation’s war efforts, and P-Patches were a popular means for feeding families, building communities and boosting morale.
While today community gardens are not seen to benefit the war effort, they stand more for independence from corporate food systems, creating a healthier lifestyle and reducing the resources used to bring food to our tables.
The simplest sustainable effort to adopt is growing a garden. Not only does it save money otherwise spent at the grocery store, it offers a healthy alternative to processed commercial food. Community or individual gardens are better for the planet because they sidestep the cost of petroleum, refrigeration, pesticides and fertilizers used to make the corporate food industry viable.
Almost every block on Capitol Hill sprouts some kind of edible garden, be it containers on the porch brimming with herbs, hand-hewn boxes in the condo courtyard supporting squash blossoms or the sweet pea blossoms twining the fence that contains any of our Hill’s P-Patches. They are everywhere and they are bountiful.