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

City Matching Grant Transforms Community Orchard

February 15, 2016

It’s time to review 13 months of orchard infrastructure work, an extensive effort funded with a Seattle Department of Neighborhood (DON) Matching Grant. We are especially thankful to Allynn Ruth (DON) for securing a four-month extension of time to complete our work. Construction took longer because we did most of the work ourselves and also maximized use of recycled materials. Vale la pena! We all learned some cool new skills.

With Max’s help, we created a slide show to illustrate the steps for all five of our major projects: shed move, shed rebuild, cistern pad and cisterns, city water, path, garden beds and trellises.

Shed Move – We had to move the shed several feet in order to make room for cisterns. Ropes were threaded under the shed and tied to a long bar on each side. Five strong people per side pulled up on the bars, shuffled several feet and then set her down on new pavers. The cost was zero but 85 volunteer hours were needed for planning, leveling, cleaning out shed, tearing the old roof off and dismantling it to reuse the wood. We made eight new friends.

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Shed Rebuild –  Volunteers rebuilt a previously-donated shed in order to catch roof water and to increase storage capacity. Once we chose the cistern size, the shed design followed; the lower edge of the roof needed to be ten feet from the ground. We made calculations, checked our calculations, made calculations and checked our calculations. Most of the hammering was done in a weekend. We spent $4,100, which included materials for build-out of the inside of the shed. Volunteer hours were roughly 816 and we made nine new friends.

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Cistern Pad and Cistern –  We were told we had the best pad the cistern installer had ever seen! We used cedar for the frame and we used a skill saw to make half-lap joints. The pad frame contains a layer of sand, then crushed rock. Total cost of the pad was $640 (think cedar). Two 1,500-gallon cisterns, plus install and other misc costs was $3,826. The effort took about 85 hours.

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City Water – We added city water as a backup to the cisterns. Pacific Landscaping dug a trench, laid 250 linear feet of plastic pipe, and installed valves, vertical pipes and spigots. We used recycled wood and dug posts into the ground to secure the pipes. The hard work came next: backfilling and replacing sod. Total cost was $9,700, including $8,700 to SPU for installing a meter and repairing a patch in the street.  120 Volunteer hours were logged in.

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Crushed rock path – Hurrah! You don’t need swamp boots to traverse the area in the winter, that is, unless you stray off the path. We spray painted the 577 linear foot path and designated areas for the dug up sod to be dumped. Pacific Landscaping came back and, with a front loader, they dug up the sod and dumped it into future garden bed sites. During our planning meeting, when the number of wheelbarrow runs of rock was estimated to be 230 trips, several handy volunteers jumped at the chance to try a mule and a walk-behind front loader. We laid down Geotec cloth in the muckiest part of the path and then spread 40 cubic yards of crushed rock and compacted it, all within a weekend.  The cost was $3,660. This includes $1,670 for crushed rock, $520 for tool rental, and $880 for excavating. It took 280 volunteer hours and we made six new friends.

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Garden Beds and Trellises – After a much needed break, we started piecing together garden beds. About 50 tons of dirt needed to be pushed around and molded. Nine garden beds were made: five mounds, three Faswall framed beds and one rubble framed herb spiral. Surely we have the only Octagon in town; no one else would so be naive not to realize how laborious it would be to build one. Our herb spiral doubled as a drainage improvement project; we buried a couple of large logs under the spiral. We also made three grape trellises from old metal pipes and hose clamps. Concrete blocks were partially dug in the ground to house the trellis uprights. Rebar was then pounded into one concrete block cell and concrete was poured and mixed in both cells.  Costs were $2,524 hours, the largest cost being $1,300 for the Faswall bed frames. 265 hours have been logged in and we have six more new friends. .

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Costs to date are $32,000. In addition to the costs above, we spent another $8,000 for: art , tools, supplies, tree move and removal, food, plants and gifts. The required volunteer match to earn a $32,000 grant is 1,600 hours. We have far surpassed that goal with 3,153 hours and counting! Total new friends since the grant start date is 56.

Within the next couple of months, we will finish the garden beds, plant new fruit trees and vines, and complete the native plant section in the south end.

Ruth