Giving Garden Program donates more than 41,000 pounds of produce to help fight food insecurity in Seattle.

There is no doubt that many people are happy to bid farewell to 2021. With hardships related to COVID-19 and unprecedented weather events, the past year was challenging, to say the least. One issue that didn’t garner as much widespread attention, but significantly impacted the lives of many people, particularly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, was a rise in food insecurity and hunger. However, on a local level, there was a collective push by the Seattle community to come together and help combat food insecurity in our area. Last year, the P-Patch Giving Garden Program donated 41,882 pounds of organic produce to meal programs and food banks across Seattle.

Donated greens bagged for delivery

This achievement was made possible by the hard work and commitment of a collaborative network of individuals and organizations dedicated to providing nutritious food to those experiencing hunger. Volunteers from community gardens and organizations across the city gave their time starting seeds, tending garden beds, harvesting produce, and delivering food to ensure that fewer people worried about where their next meal would come from.

Each February, Ballard Sprouts plants over 20,000 seeds and tends the small plants until they are hearty enough to be put into the soil in early April. These plants are given to local P-Patches to be planted in Giving Garden plots to reach maturity and have the produce harvested for donation to Seattle area food banks. These plants give the gardens a head start on the growing season and allow them to maximize the yield.

Over the growing season, members of more than 50 P-Patches across the city volunteer to help maintain garden plots dedicated to growing food for donation. Many community gardeners also give produce from their personal garden plots for donation through the Giving Garden Program. More than 15,000 pounds of the 20 tons of donated food was given from gardener’s personal plots. Giving Garden Leads at participating P-Patches help plan seedling plantings, oversee plot management, organize volunteer activities, and coordinate with community partners for produce delivery.

“Our approach to the giving garden engagement was to help the food banks we are donating to, the P-Patch gardeners, and our neighborhood community in general. Our Giving Garden has been a space of healing both for us gardeners and our neighbors who have been living through the pandemic…[it] is a space not only for growing and donating food but also for engaging with the community.”

Didem Ikizoğlu, Giving Garden Co-Lead at the Spring Street P-Patch.

Community partnerships play an important role in distributing harvests to meal programs and food banks throughout Seattle. The donated produce helps organizations like the Byrd Barr Place and FamilyWorks Food Bank and Resource Center provide locally grown, organic fruits and vegetables to individuals and families experiencing hunger. The program also collaborates with local non-profits: Cascade Bicycle Club helped deliver extra produce to local food banks by bike and Hunger Intervention provided nutrition and gardening classes to low-income youth at the Lake City Court P-Patch.

Supporting low-income and underrepresented populations is one of the P-Patch Program’s core values. Through the Market Garden Program, low-income and immigrant families living at Seattle Housing Authority properties work communally to sell the produce grown at the NewHolly and High Point Market Gardens at farm stands. Although market garden sales were ceased in 2021 due to COVID-19, the gardens partnered with City Fruit to host eight pop-ups to distribute free fruit and vegetables to community members. At these events, over 2,000 pounds of donated food was given away to more than 750 families.

A resident checks out produce at a Market Garden pop-up event

Thank you to all the gardeners, staff, and partner organizations for your hard work and dedication to this program. Your altruistic commitment to serving others during these unprecedented and fearful times has made an impact in the lives of many Seattleites and is a true example of what can be achieved when people work together to benefit the greater good.

Let’s keep it growing in 2022!