The Seattle P-Patch Program grows organic produce for donation to food banks and other meal programs. P-Patch gardens city wide grow and donate over 28,000 pounds of organic produce every year to those in need.
The Magnuson Park Community Garden is one of the largest in the Seattle P-Patch system with about a dozen food bank plots (also known as Giving Gardens) that are planted and harvested by Magnuson P-Patch volunteer gardeners specifically for donation. Gardeners also donate from their own P-Patch gardens. Organic produce donations are made to the University Food Bank, the Lake City Food Bank, and to the programs of Transitional Housing for families and singles located in nearby Magnuson Park Housing. The organic produce is greatly appreciated by those who receive the donations.
The food bank plots are planted with starts and seeds provided by the P-Patch’s gardeners, as well as with seeds provided by Lettuce Link of Seattle’s Solid Ground organization. (Solid Ground oversees the transitional housing in Magnuson Park, as well as providing many other good services in Seattle.)
Vegetable starts are provided by the Seattle Giving Garden Network. The starts are a variety of vegetables that are started in greenhouses staffed by volunteers. Volunteers pick up the starts from a greenhouse located in Ballard throughout the Spring and early Summer.
In May, the Magnuson Community Garden Food Bank Program receives donation starts from the nearby Nathan Hale High School Horticulture program, the most extensive high school horticulture program city wide.
Key Players and How the Program Works
Food Bank Coordinator – The current Food Bank Coordinator is Chris Budech. The coordinator ensures that the Food Bank gardens have volunteers working the gardens, and helps troubleshoot issues that may arise. The coordinator also acts as the liaison with Lettuce Link, the Giving Garden Network, and Nathan Hale H.S. Horticulture program. This includes organizing pick-up, and delivery of the plant starts to the garden. Contact Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food Bank Gardeners – In most cases volunteer gardeners work on a specific Food Bank plot, usually a few core people to a plot. Gardeners can also help in a more general way by watering, weeding and harvesting plots as back up to gardeners who are out of town. They may also assist with plots that can use extra help at times. While gardeners who work a specific Food Bank plot do harvest their own plots, Tuesday helper harvesters are always welcome. Gardeners are encouraged to donate extra produce from their own P-Patch gardens or gardens and fruit trees at home. You can “Grow a Row” for the Food Bank in your P-Patch garden.
Delivery of produce to Food Bank and Magnuson Housing – The current Delivery Coordinator is Elizabeth Fletcher. She has a group of volunteers and oversees the scheduling of drivers to University Food Bank on Mondays, and to University Food Bank at Magnuson Mercy Housing on Wednesdays. Later in the season, deliveries may also be made to Lake City Food Bank on Fridays. The regular weekly deliveries are made starting in May as early crops become harvestable, through fall.
If you’re interested in helping with the deliveries, please contact Elizabeth. She can always use drivers to add to her list and it’s another way to get volunteer hours. Contact her at: email@example.com.
Food Bank End of Shed – Harvested produce from the food bank gardens are placed inside the north end of the big green Magnuson P-Patch tool shed. There are baskets and shelves to put the bagged donations on the right-hand side of the food bank shed. This is done on Sunday for the Monday morning delivery, on Tuesday for the Wednesday morning delivery, and later in the season, on Thursday, for the Friday morning delivery. There is some informational signage in the food bank shed. Do not weigh the produce or record information in the log. The driver delivery folks do that.
A few years ago we were asked by the Seattle P-Patch office staff to keep track of food donations made from gardeners “Own” P-Patch plots as opposed to the gardens we have designated for food bank growing. This hasn’t been difficult to do. Put donations from your “Own” garden on the shelves on the left side of the food bank shed.
On delivery day, the driver weighs and records the number of pounds of produce into our Food Bank record books. Notations of type of produce may also be made. Over the past several years our garden has been one of the top donors with an average of 3000 pounds. The yearly total number of pounds donated is submitted to the City P-Patch program which tracks produce donations from all Seattle P-Patches.