Last night I went to my first Sustainable Ballard meeting in an effort to get more involved at the local level. The topics for the evening were centered mostly around growing your own food and what resources there were in the community to help.
Someone from the Seattle P-Patch Trust spoke about the 23 acres of land that is available to the public for growing food. There are currently 6,000 gardeners using the P-Patches, but there are 2,000 people on the waiting lists. For those of you who live in Seattle and want to know how to move up the list a little faster, she suggested that you volunteer at the P-Patch you are interested in. Anyway, one of the resources the speaker was suggesting for people to use is a document, Starting a Community Garden (pdf), from the American Community Garden Association, if you are looking to start a community garden in your area.
I spoke a bit afterwards with the Garden and Natural Environment Guild Leader for the group about harvesting fruit trees both on public and private land. She suggested checking out the Community Fruit Tree Harvest which is focused on harvesting unwanted community fruit and delivering it to people with limited access to organic produce (food bank, shelters, senior centers, etc.).
One thing we discussed was some way of matching neighbors that have fruit and nut trees with volunteers to come and harvest their fruit. It is similar in concept to a recently launched website, Urban Garden Share, which matches up people with gardening space with gardeners who would like to use it. The website is currently only available to those in the Seattle area, but they are looking to expand to Portland and, eventually, the rest of the country. Definitely check it out - it's only been up a few weeks, but it's an interesting idea.
Anyway, I think it would be cool to be able to search for someone who has fruit trees that aren't interested in the fruit and match them with someone who is. Since nothing like this exists (that I know of - but maybe I'll just have to build the darn thing myself), I mentioned that having a "stock" letter on something like a door hanger to put on the fruit tree owner's door asking if they were interested in someone harvesting the fruit/nuts on their trees (with contact info if they want to follow-up - email or phone) would be cool to have. In other words, a request letter, you could even state what you would give in trade, like jars of jam or the like.
For those of you interested in transportation issues related to food security, the Sail Transport Company is working to deliver food grown from around Puget Sound, but transported to Seattle via sailboat. It's a CSA by sail. They've already done at least one delivery to Shilshole Marina this year and weekly delivery will start at the end of May. So, instead of getting your produce grown in the Puget Sound area delivered by car or truck, you can get it delivered farm-to-market without burning a single drop of hydrocarbon fuel.
Lastly, two companies were there to speak about the services they offer to Seattle gardeners. Both offer full service edible landscape design focusing on building your garden beds for you and helping establish your crops, even going so far as maintaining them if you like. Seattle Urban Farm Company will also spec out and build you a custom chicken coop and will soon be offering custom built pygmy goat pens as well.
Cascadian Edible Landscapes offers chicken coops in addition to custom garden bed construction, rain barrel installation and the like, but one thing that was really cool is that they have this program, basically a CSA for plant starts. They do all the plant starts and get them to you at the correct time of the year for year-round produce. Too cool!
Man, I love Seattle.