Tag Archives: volunteer

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

Path Project Complete

August 27, 2015

Building our crushed rock path was a sizeable effort with a sizeable payback: an improvement in 150823 Melton on path WP_20150823_003 smboth the appearance and functionality of the orchard.

Path construction was the biggest volunteer effort for FECO to date. Seventeen hard-working volunteers donated a total of 117 hours moving 40 cubic yards of gravel last Saturday and Sunday. Volunteer hours to prep for excavation, including the construction of the retaining wall, totaled 50. This does not include all the hours spent on planning and research!

The path layout is based on the community adopted architectural design for the orchard space. Neighbors wanted a functional, simple path that was pleasant for walking and would allow for easy movement of dirt, chips and water. We also wanted a long path that looped so people could preview the orchard without hitting a dead-end.

Accessibility was a big part of the design. The path is 575 linear feet and the narrowest part of the path is 40″. The accessible garden bed area, a water spigot, the shed and the public plaza area are all tied together with a 60″ wide path, making it negotiable for people using wheel chairs and walkers.

Those with mobility challenges are best served if the path does not slope more than 5% along it’s length or more than 2% from side to side. Michelle good excavation  20472227378_5a0420249a_o smWe are fortunate to have fairly level ground but we needed a retaining wall in the north end to keep the side-to-side slope small.

An operator of a mini-excavator, and two hard workers using shovels, professionally excavated the path. In five hours, they excavated and edged 40 cubic yards of dirt! The dirt remains on the premises, to be used for future garden beds.

Filling in the path with gravel was all done by volunteers. Three workers had fun commanding a 150822 max rc jeff w loader DSCN1678 smwalk-behind loader; a gas powered tracked wheelbarrow and a plate compactor. Other tools used were landscape rakes, shovels and six regular wheelbarrows. The rock was misted with water before compaction.

Sun, Aug 30, 11-12, Intro Qi Gong
Sat, Sept 5, 2-4, Work Party
Sun, Sept 6, 11-12, Intro Qi Gong
Sun, Sept 20, 2-4, Work Party

Seventy feet of this path tend to be swampy in the winter. In this area, we added a woven geotextile 150822 geo cloth WP_20150822_007 smfabric to enclose the crushed rock. We hope the fabric will hold the rock together and also prevent muddy boots.

Every person’s contribution was critical to this flawless effort. Congratulations to all who helped out.

We will now move on to garden bed construction, trellises, benches, plants and seeds, tools, art an entry way and signs.

It’s open season for reserving garden beds. You just need eight hours of 150823 compacting WP_20150823_013 smvolunteer work to claim a bed!

Ruth