Enjoy National Pollinators Week!

June 20, 2016

The morning was hot and getting hotter, so at a recent pollinator workshop (June 4 at 21 Acres) we nan bumble crop WP_20160619_13_59_16_Protook an early field tour, observing various bees, nest holes for ants (flat) v. bees (ringed by excavation “dust”), and some of the experimental plantings underway. We spent the rest of the day viewing slides and learning about bee identification, ecology and conservation methods.

Much of the information from the Xerces Society and King Conservation District (workshop sponsors) can be scaled to yards and small holdings like Freeway Estates.

Conserving the Bumblebees says, “Bumblebees need three types of habitat . . . plants on which to forage for pollen and nectar, nesting sites, and places to overwinter.” (It doesn’t mention the presence of water, which surprised me. I later learned that only honeybees need additional water; natives get the moisture they need from foraging.)

Here are some of the other things I learned:

For bees in general, the best environment is a mosaic of “structurally different vegetation”;
mowing patterns need to be varied with some unmowed patches remaining. In preparation for adding native pollinator plants, some folks clear weed seeds by burning. These areas should never comprise more than a third of the native-species area, and they need to be adjacent to refuge patches.

Ground-nesting bees need swatches of bare or scarcely vegetated ground.

151004 Klock leafcutter bee IMG_4215Commercial flower breeding has increased petal complexity and decreased pollen content. Simple, single-flowered and flat-faced forbs feed various bees, which have different lengths of tongue. Heirloom varieties are sturdiest and take the least care. Lots of common, popular garden flowers and trees, however, also offer good nectar sources throughout the seasons.

It was especially rewarding to meet fellow participants and discuss their personal and institutional projects.

Sun, Jul 17, 10-12, Work Party
Tues, Aug 2, 6-8:30, Seattle Night Out Potluck – all welcome
Sat, Aug 20, 10-11, QiGong
Sun, Aug 21, 10-12, Work Party

To find seasonal charts, bee identification and commentary, try:

  • Conserving Bumble Bees: Guidelines for Creating and Managing Habitat for America’s Declining Pollinators, The Xerces Society. This thin 8½” x 11” booklet has excellent analyses, charts, photos and instructions. (It’s national in scope, but you can skinny it up by saving just the general pages and those applicable to the Pacific NW.)
  • Establishing Pollinator Meadows from Seed, the Xerces Society, an 8½”x11”, 11-page pamphlet.
  • Tunnel Nests for Native Bees: Nest Construction and Management, an 8½” x 11”, 4-page invertebrate conservation fact sheet, the Xerces Society.
  • pollinator.org/PDFs/Guides/PacificLowlandrx9FINAL.pdf. This downloadable, 24-page pdf loads quickly and is worth keeping.
  • Attracting Pollinators to Your Garden Using Native Plants. This 9-page pamphlet, hand-illustrated in double-page-spread format, is from Lolo National Forest (in Montana), U.S. Forest Service. Its scope is national. Download it from www.fs.fed.us/wildflowers/pollinators/documents/attractingpollinatorsV5.pdf.

The Xerces website is comprehensive. Their western regional address is 628 NE Broadway, Ste. 200, Portland OR 97232; phone 855-232-6639; www.xerces.org. The King Conservation District is at 1107 SW Grady Way, Ste. 130, Renton WA 98057; phone 425-282-1900; www.kingcd.org.

Jennifer

The FECO Community

May 22, 2016

Hi!

My name’s Lydia and I’m a nursing student at UW and one of your neighbors. I had an assignment for my community health class. The instructions were to take 2 photos from my community that answered the following questions:

What is one asset of your community?
What is the most significant need in your community?

Since I used the community orchard as one of the photos, I thought I’d share my project. I’m in an accelerated program and have time for almost nothing outside of school, so I haven’t yet made it to any of the work parties, but every day when I pass this space, I am filled with joy and gratitude. Thanks for all you do to make our community stronger!
If you feel inclined, you are more than welcome to share this with anyone :)

Cheers,
Lydia

I pass an area on my walk home from school every day. Off of I-5, on the corner of N. 50th Street in 50th and I-5 image001the Green Lake/Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle, this image is not unique. Cans, cardboard, and an assortment of garbage are heaped in piles along many areas of the Interstate. What this image depicts is unsightly and unsanitary, but what you don’t see here is that this is the home of several residents of my community.

Since I moved to my neighborhood six months ago, I have witnessed the ongoing development of FECO image003this community orchard as I pass by it on the way to my bus stop every morning.  It is located off I-5 in Seattle’s Green Lake neighborhood at NE 60th Street. To me, this project epitomizes how the assets of my community can be directed toward sustainability, neighborhood partnership, and food and agriculture education. It is a powerful response to the community need depicted above. A sign off to the right of this photo boasts, “ANYONE CAN HELP.” Though projects like this may displace members of the community who reside along the Interstate, it does offer them a place to access free food directly from the land, as well as an opportunity to get involved.

Sun, Jun 19, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Jul 17, 10-12, Work Party
Tues, Aug 2, Night Out-Potluck
Sun, Aug 21, 10-12, Work Party

Thank you Lydia! Many people have taken time to stop by and share their appreciation of the orchard. Here are just a few comments:

After a wedding at FECO, a neighbor observed, “Wasn’t that cute! We are fortunate to have something like this happen in our neighborhood.”

Last week, a man from Colville stopped by. He said, “I visit relatives nearby annually. I have walked to this space for several years and it looks better each time I visit.”

2015 20 hour club FullSizeRender1

back – Joan, Ken, Ellen, Max, Jennifer, Nora, middle – Ruth, Nancy, Liz, front – Nancy, Sue, Michelle, not pictured – Becky, Justin, Jeff, Ingela

With all this appreciation coming our way, it’s high time to appreciate the people who put a lot into this project in the last year — the 20-Hour Club. Each volunteered 20 or more hours in the last 12 months.

The Club celebrated in January and I asked, 1) what inspired each of them to work on this project and 2) what would make it a better space for the community.
Some of their responses follow.

“I learned that there are European pears that I really like (Harrow Delight). I think a couple of places to sit would make the orchard more valuable.”

“I learned a lot from the class on microbes. I loved watching Liz work so hard on the herb spiral. I watched her go back and forth, back and forth and, well, work so hard. ”

“The shed move exemplified a lot of things that people are speaking about today. All kinds of people came and saw things they could do and they did them. It was a success. It was natural and fluid. People are diverse in their talents and there was a lot of teamwork.”

“I learned how to do a path and was amazed that we moved 40 cubic yards of gravel in a day. We need to get more people to know where the orchard is.”

“I learned the names of plants, both from the invasive plant class and from other volunteers.”

“I learned about Hugelkultur”.

“I am a technocrat, and I loved working with Ken to level the pavers. I think we should add a library box and benches.”

“The orchard was very much a sense of place for me because I moved five times in a bit over a year. I appreciated the opportunity to organize a class that we offered to the public. I think we need more art in the orchard. Maybe we can invite artists to come as an event.”

“I learn new words, like ‘urbanite’. You can grow with the garden. I liked using the cider press, the same piece of equipment that was used 100 years ago.”

“I like trying new drainage ideas so I will watch what happens under the herb spiral (where logs were buried). We can partner more with other food-related groups. We have Qigong but it would be good to add yoga and a drum circle!”

Many in this 20-Hour Club brought in friends and family to help out last year. In all, we could not have accomplished what we did without the 100+ other volunteers, including the students from Kids Co. and Hazel Wolf school.

Thank you all. It’s been wonderful to meet so many people who just enjoy helping out.

(Note that our Acknowledgements Page lists nearby businesses that helped in some way.)

Ruth

Ready for a Rest

May 3, 2016

April 30, 2016 was the last day to spend our Seattle Neighborhood Matching Grant funds. We sheet mulch 20160428_190314accomplished so much this past 14 months (see prior blog post) but we were still missing a bench. Last year, there was no time to rest but, this year, there is!

We made an effort, searching Craigslist, UW surplus and Second Use websites, but there was hardly a bench to be found.

Then, an amazing gift came our way. On Sunday, April 17, we were short on volunteers so I kept my eyes open, hoping to spot more of our regulars. I didn’t want to get my hopes up but it looked like three men were walking toward the orchard.

Sat, May 7, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, May 15, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Jun 19, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Jul 17, 10-12, Work Party

It was sunny that day so I raised my hand to my eyebrow to see well. Yes! They were coming our way. Three fine young men from the neighborhood showed up to volunteer. Sturdy and alert, Brooks, Drew and Nathan built a rubble frame for a garden bed, added a couple of shelves to the shed, and dug out a big root ball of Cotoneaster.

When the work was finished, Brooks turned to Sue and me and said, “You need a bench.” I smiled ear to ear.D&B WP_20160430_14_30_13_Pro

Just in the nick of time, before our grant money ran out, these men did it all: designed the bench, picked a good sitting area, shopped for materials, sheet mulched the sitting area, picked up a load of cedar chips, sanded and sealed the wood and finished the bench on April 30.

Cement block and fir 4x4s serve as the base. Our old rotting wood pallets could be salvaged into slats so Drew took them home to cut them up. However, as luck would have it, just a block from his house, he spotted a free pile of old cedar fence boards and he used those instead. Six inches of cedar chips lie beneath the bench, which won’t decompose as fast as arborist chips.

finished bench WP_20160502_003 Doesn’t it look great!

Please consider showing up at one of the May work parties.
We have a lot to accomplish before summer.
Also, save the date – Sunday, October 2, is our sixth annual cider fest.

Ruth