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Public community gardens offer urban escape in Snoqualmie Valley
Community gardens are becoming increasingly popular in the Valley. The city of Snoqualmie has two, Snoqualmie Ridge has another, and the city of North Bend is pursuing the development of at least one garden plot open to the public, in the short term.
“The long term intent is to have some community P-patches at the Tollgate Farm,” said North Bend Associate Planner Mike McCarty. For now, though, the city wants to be sure that people would make use of the patches, if they were available.
In Snoqualmie this year, 17 city residents are working on their own 12 by 6-foot garden plots.
“We were full last year so added 12 additional lots this year,” Gwen Voelpel, Snoqualmie’s Parks & Recreation Director communicated by e-mail. “However, with the weather being what it’s been, we are not yet full.”
Costs to the city of Snoqualmie have been minimal for putting in the gardens. Voelpel said the city has chosen lots that couldn’t be developed in other ways, and spent about $6,000 to create and maintain each garden. Participants pay $25 for the summer for each 6 by 12 lot they use, and the city shoulders some of the maintenance and watering costs.
North Bend would prefer to partner with another organization or neighborhood in developing a garden and sharing the costs, McCarty said. Previously, the city had considered a P-patch on land it owned near the Si View Senior Center, but public support has waned for that idea, and now the city is working with the community near the Si View Parks building.
“It’s an ongoing interest, but it needs a facilitator,” said McCarty.
Several North Bend and Snoqualmie neighborhoods have also created or started planning for their own P-patches, in the true spirit of the original P-patch. The concept began in Seattle in the 70s, when the city leased land from the Picardo farming family to create a community garden during a “Boeing bust” period of extended unemployment. People were asked to help maintain a large garden plot for the community, and in return for their help, they received their own private garden plots around the edges. The “P” in P-patch actually stands for Picardo, but it could also stand for many of people’s assumed meanings, peas, public, passionate people, or popular.