Tag Archives: food bank

Planning for 2017

sues-jan-lettuce-wp_20170115_001January 31, 2017

Eleven thoughtful volunteers met this month to sketch out a vision for the coming year. The Cider Fest will be our key event, we will add a few more fruit trees and bushes and the food bank bed is expanding. (Note Sue’s gorgeous December lettuce, photo taken just after three periods of below freezing temperatures!)

There is plenty of work just to maintain what we already have in place so we curbed some dreams to be respectful of our existing resources. In addition to our regular workers, If we can entice everyone who volunteered within the last couple of years to come to just one work party in 2017, we should be able to keep the orchard looking lovely. Several volunteers are committed to volunteer recruitment, including a summer work party posting to Seattle Works.

nora-and-liz-on-ivy-wp_20170115_003You will see more elderberry and fig trees this year and you will see less English Ivy. Nora, Liz and Ellen are driven to ivy removal and, by the end of this year, the native plant area should be appropriately named!

Also, we are hiring. Please see our Library page for three documents that relate to this position.

We are looking for a fruit tree specialist to review our orchard management plan, make plan recommendations, visit the site monthly to make plant and soil observations and ensure the management plan is being followed by volunteers. City Fruit has graciously offered to help us with the interview process and this position is posted on their website.

We are estimating that the job will take 20 hours minimum, spread out over the course of 2017, and we are willing to pay $15-$30 per hour, depending on the candidates qualifications.

We need more than one volunteer who is committed to learning all that he or she can about the care of fruit trees. In order to continue high standards for tree care and to continue to offer educational events related to urban agriculture, we hope to find someone who wants to practice their management skills with fruit and nut trees. This internship offer is our part to increase the pool of qualified orchard stewards in the Puget Sound area.

Sat, Feb 18, 1-3, Pruning Class
Sun, Feb 19, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Mar 19, 2-4, Work Party

Kudos to all for 2016 improvements above and beyond maintenance:

•    Revised orchard walking tour flyer
•    Productive Food Bank bed, plus
•    Four new successful gardens
•    Native plant area development: 4 new plants plus non-native plant purge
•    New rolling drawer under table in shed
•    Bountiful harvest from all beds and fruit and nut trees and berries
•    New outdoor bench
•    Newly planted persimmon, pear and mulberry trees
•    Milkweed installation as part of the Endangered Species Coalition effort to provide food for Monarch butterflies
•    Events! Successful pruning class, Night Out and Cider Fest
•    Productive work with Hazel Wolf students and Kids Co students
•    Hosted CityFruit bike tour
•    Beautiful new artistic paver pathway to herb spiral
•    New volunteers and new gardeners, Ryan and, soon Michael, Stuart and Mitch
•    Regular City lawn mowing
•    Grape trellis installation and wiring added
•    Regular monthly blogs
•    Development of orchard management plan

Harvest Highlights – Part I – Vegetables

November 30, 2016

The bounty from our seven vegetable gardens was spectacular and, beginning mid-May and 161121-sm-sues-lettuce-wp_20161121_16_18_27_proending mid-November, we donated over 300 pounds of produce to the University District Food Bank. Thanks so much to experienced gardeners Sue Hartman and Nancy Helm, sluggers in the batting lineup with Team Mother Nature.

Nancy filled our spare garden bed with organic seed potato. With surplus compost, she periodically hilled up the potato rows. What a strategy! The potato harvest was huge and easy to dig up. Nancy was in awe of Sue’s beautiful greens: “Now I know that floating row cover is worth the effort, continuous harvest and cleanup helps prevent disease, and crowding plants is bad.”

tomato-wilt-wp_20160721_001Indeed, Sue’s chard, kale, collards, lemon cukes, zucchini and tomatoes belonged in an art gallery. However, there was a bit of ugly. We came face to face with Spotted Wilt Virus this summer. (photo) Sue thought it would be easier to deal with determinant* tomatoes in cages (versus trellis). Indeterminate tomatoes do not appear to be susceptible to this disease and are less prone to splitting, so next year she will grow a row of indeterminate tomatoes instead. She also grew powdery mildew resistant summer squash but it did not sufficiently resist. We will try a milk spray early next year to keep the mildew at bay.

161121-sm-celeriac-harvest-wp_20161121_16_24_34_proWe spoke to the produce manager at the University food bank to find out what their clients snatch up fast. In response, we have made more room for collards. We now drop off produce later in the week; early in the week, the food bank garners unsold produce from the weekend farmer’s market events.

I learned that tomatillo plants could sprout new plants from a branch lying on the ground. (This is ‘layering’. Blackberry plants are quite skilled at this type of propagation.) And, when homegrown radishes are too hot to eat fresh, they are mild and delectable when roasted. Early on, I was disgusted with the low germination rate of the French marigolds but I had to eat my words because it only took two plants to fill up a big space full of bee-friendly small flowers. (photo)!

We used less than one CCF (748 gallons) of City water this year. The rest of our water needs, bombus-small-on-marigold-wp_20161028_001about 2,500 gallons, came from rain stored in the cisterns. We added only organic approved inputs including cardboard, donated compost and wood chips, burlap bags, agricultural lime, some blood meal, and fish fertilizer.

Gardeners note! Sue donated well-labeled seeds and they are in the shed for your use!

We welcome Mitch as our new gardener and we warmly bid farewell to Ryan who is moving out of Washington.


* Determinant – plant stops growing when fruit sets on the top bud. Indeterminate – plant will grow and produce until it gets cold

Learning and Sharing

August 15, 2016

This morning, FECO volunteer Sue Hartman hauled over 10 pounds of produce to the food bank 160328 food bank bed plan HartmanColor0001 croppedfor the 13th time. Her walk is shorter now that the University Food Bank re-located to Roosevelt Ave N, just north of NE 50th St.

Thus far, FECO has contributed the following foods to the food bank: kale, chard, collards, lettuce, radish, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, onion, blueberries, and potatoes. Still to come: tomatillos and, hopefully, apples.

Sue knows her stuff. She works the Seattle Tilth Garden Hotline, coordinates the Tilth garden and teaches in the education program. Her own yard could easily be mistaken for a nursery!

Sue and food bank bed WP_20160509_001From design to harvest Sue manages the FECO food bank bed. As she toils away, she tells you the difference between a leaf roller and a leaf minor, whips up a climbing cage for the cukes that will shade the tender lettuce, and reminds you which fall crops should not be seeded until September. We are thankful for her level of experience and her willingness to share all that she knows.

Sat, Aug 20, 10-11, Intro Qi Gong
Sun, Aug 21, 10-12, Work Party
Sat, Aug 27, 10-11, Intro Qi Gong
Sat, Sep 3, 10-11, Intro Qi Gong

The grand opening celebration of the new University Food Bank (http://www.udistrictfoodbank.org/) is this Wednesday, August 17, from 6-8pm. The food bank and cafe are on the ground floor, there is low-income housing on the next several floors and roof top small WP_20160809_024there is a rooftop garden with 2,000 milk crates full of vegetables. Don’t miss this opportunity for a tour!

Hannah Duffany, Grocery Rescue/Farm Manager, says they especially appreciate donations of fruit and shelf stable vegetables like winter squash, garlic and onions.

Happy harvesting!