Category Archives: Orchard Events

Ten Years at Freeway Estates

February 18, 2020

Volunteers who put in 20+ hours last year gathered recently to sip Chestnut soup and brainstorm. Good ideas flowed, including a suggestion to add a sign to the kiosk, summarizing our efforts during the past ten years. Below is the content created by the 20-hour club.

Freeway Estates Community Orchard (FECO) is located on Duwamish land. Today this 12,000 square foot plot is managed by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and leased to FECO.

In 2010, a small group of neighbors planted the first fruit trees and began transitioning the grass and invasive plants to planting guilds. In 2013, the City of Seattle awarded us a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant (NMF) to formally survey the neighbors about their vision for this space. We were unanimous in choosing one concept and created our Vision and Mission Statement:

Vision: Seattle residents have nearby access to a beautiful public space where they can learn and participate in food growing, connect with neighbors, and nurture the environment.

Mission: We are creating an inclusive, action-oriented community, excited about:

–producing organic food to be shared,
–educating ourselves and our neighbors,
–improving and beautifying this public space.

In 2015 we received a large NMF grant and, guided by our steering committee, volunteers built infrastructure which included: gravel paths, a shed re-build, two rain-water cisterns, plumbing for city water, and raised beds. Another small NMF grant in 2018 allowed us to implement a water conservation project.

Sat, Mar 7, 10-12 Work Party
Sun Mar 15, 2-4, Work Party
Mon Mar 30, 6:30-8 Fig Pruning
Mon Apr 6, 6-8, Work Party

All of our NMF grants required volunteer matching hours. We have always exceeded the requirement. To date, more than 150 volunteers have logged a total of 11,000 hours.

We grow all of our food in compliance with organic standards. We produce our own thermal compost. We continue to learn about urban agriculture and share our knowledge with each other and with other organizations. We sponsor workshops on fruit-tree pruning, compost production, culinary herbs, invasive plants, and pollinators. We regularly host grade-school children. Since 2011, we have offered an annual cider-pressing festival for neighbors and friends.

One of our major ongoing activities is growing food for the University District Food Bank. In 2019, from just four garden beds, we contributed more than 700 pounds of fresh produce for neighbors in need.

We have faced many setbacks in terms of theft and vandalism. It is challenging to work in such a public location. However, when a neighbor walks through and expresses appreciation and gratitude for what we are doing, we feel the rewards outweigh the disappointments.

For the near future, we are increasing our commitment to use resources wisely and to include all people.

FECO is a hub where neighbors and volunteers connect. We welcome everyone. No special skills are needed and we have tasks for all levels of ability.

Contact us at freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com.
Support us at FreewayEstates.org

The 2019 20-hour club: Maxwell, Joan, Reid, Kate, Jennifer, Sue, Nancy, Allison, Michelle, Amy, Nora, Ruth, Arly and Brannon

Fall Means Festival!

September 28, 2019

Fall is here! On Saturday, October 12th we will be hosting our 9th annual Cider Fest from 2:00-5:00pm. We invite everyone to visit the orchard and enjoy a free cup of freshly pressed hot apple cider.

You’ll have the opportunity to watch the cider making process and even take a turn at cranking the press. Kids love taking part in the process and tasting the end product.

In addition to cider making, we will have live music, kid’s activities from the Pacific Science Center and a Garden Hotline horticulturist, ready to answer your gardening questions.

Slices of scrumptious homemade pie will be available for a donation.Take home some salsa verde, made with orchard-grown tomatillos and mild peppers.

Sat, Oct 5, 10-12, Work Party
Sat Oct 12, 2-5, Cider Fest!
Sun Oct 20, 2-4, Work Party
Sat Nov 2, 10-12, Work Party

It’s a great time to come see all of the work we’ve been doing. In the last year, we’ve added additional garden beds to grow food for local food banks. We’ve also continued to explore ways to collect and conserve water and grow food more sustainably.

We hope to see you at the event! If you’re interested in volunteering at the event, please click this SignUp Genius link or contact us at freewayestatescommunityorchard@gmail.com.

We’re also looking for volunteers to help us spruce up the orchard on Saturday, October 5th from 10am-12pm. All help is appreciated!

Michelle

Offerings

July 26, 2019

Whatever we offer to the community, a larger offering comes back, in one way or another.

Yesterday morning a teen was sitting cross-legged on the bench, reading a book. She stayed quite awhile. The bench is a small offering to those passing by.

But a much more significant offering this year was from you and your friends and family. You did it! You surpassed our fund raising goal of $600 by $135. The timing could not be better since we just incurred an unbudgeted cost to fix the website.

We also received $300, to date, for our spigot replacement fund, a separate capital cost that four other volunteers offered to help with. We don’t know the plumbing cost yet but we’ll try one spigot, of a different type, to see if it survives vandalism and theft. Cross your fingers.

Sat, Aug 3, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Aug 18, 2-4, Work Party
Sat, Sep 7, 10-12, Work Party
Sun, Sep 15, 2-4, Work Party

Meanwhile, Sue and I are also ecstatic about recent volunteer offerings!

Spring helpers were redirected toward squishing larvae. One volunteer grumbled that squishing was not on the to-do list and another couldn’t face the task without tweezers. However, most were mildly enthusiastic and their hard work paid off. Even though the crop on the Liberty and the William’s Pride are only 1/10 of their normal yield, we would not have any apples without that early attention to those blossoms.

Allison, a weekly volunteer, has a keen sense for detail, a good pair of eyes and an ease for fruit and nut tree work. I am lucky to have her help.

Thank you to newcomers Nicole, Amy, Maxwell, Matt, Eric, Daniel, Emily, Jeremy, Reid, Ryan, Sarah, Micah and Hannah. Signs of their work are everywhere. Last Thursday, after harvest, Sue looked at me and said she was going home early for the first time! (She looked a bit confused but I peeked down the sidewalk and, in fact, she was headed in the right direction.)

University Y volunteers, Andy and Sandra offered mulching and gravel reclamation services. We are thankful for their partnership.

The offering from LaFawnda’s KidsCo troop is always commendable. The kids march down NE 60th St each month to help with construction and watering, and then make sure no mulberry goes to waste.

I am especially grateful to the veteran volunteers who stick with us year after year: Sue, Nancy, Jennifer, Kate, Nora, Joan, Arly, Brannon, Max, Maya, Ken, Michelle, Meg, Renee, Melody and Jeff.

Last night a man strolled to the herb spiral, pulled out a pair of scissors and carefully nipped a few herbs. He then walked by me with his bouquet in his hand and nodded, “Thanks for the offering.”

We are honored by the commitment of the community to Freeway Estates and we will continue to be a peaceful refuge with abundant offerings of food, education, and personal connections.

Ruth