Tag Archives: community

Pruners Without Borders

March 15, 2021

FECO volunteers, Reid and Jacob, both well over six feet tall, used their height last summer to glean a few figs from a tree in Green Lake Park. They agreed that the tree needed care.

This spring, Reid asked me if I might be interested in helping them prune the tree. I was game. “Sure! Ask Colleen Hackett, at Park N Rec, what she thinks. She knows us and she knows we prune fruit trees.”

Kevin, senior gardener for Green Lake Park, appreciated Reid’s ask for permission. Kevin expressed real delight in having volunteers eager to care for this tree. He explained that it had been planted in 2005 by a Parks Department employee but they could never afford the staff time to prune and care for it.

FECO Plant Sale! Sat Mar 20, 10-1
masks and distancing
everything from Starts to Finishes
Fig pruning class
Sat Mar 27, 10-11:30
donations welcome

We were delighted and a little surprised at the prompt and positive response. I met Jacob and Reid at the tree site. I have never seen a fig tree so dense and tangled. The fig looked as though it had never been pruned. It suffered from abuse – people pulling branches down or climbing the tree to get at the figs. This tree offered an opportunity to sharpen our rehabilitation skills, and do to so in a public space where we can’t control what others might do.

The important part of any pruning effort is to understand the goals of pruning for a particular plant. Kevin stated his goal, “If you can remove the very low branches and the huge forest of suckers around the base of the tree, my mowers will be able to get closer to the trunk.”

For our part, we decided that our long-term goal is a healthy tree that bears and ripens a good crop of figs year after year. We know it will take a few years of pruning to remove damaged and excess wood, and create good structure for fruit bearing.

Time to get to work. Reid, Jacob, and I brought out our loppers and pruning saws on a chilly, windy March morning. With a focus on reducing the tree mass, we made only thinning cuts. The heading cuts, that stimulate growth for next years fruit production, will need to wait until we have created good structure.

I’m grateful to Reid and Jacob for hatching the idea of taking this tree into our care. If you see a plant or area that seems neglected, ask the caretaker about it. You just might find yourself with a good opportunity to improve a public space, and learn a few things along the way.

Nancy

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

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.

1 roof remove 1 sm WP_20141221_005 old roof coming down sm WP_20141221_016 3 pre move rope tie sm 15548923974_bad44bc6ef_k 4 shed move 1 ropes attached sm WP_20141221_042 part way thru move sm 16145485776_33ed270f31_k recycle old roof sm WP_20141221_034
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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.

1 pushing up the new pony wall crop sm WP_20150207_018 2 secure pony from inside sm WP_20150207_015 3 ken rafter sm WP_20150207_021 4 shed before fascia sm WP_20150208_002 5 guy putting fascia sm WP_20150208_001 6 nearly finished sm WP_20150217_011 screws on roof WP_20160127_004
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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.

cistern pad half lap joint 07.dado cistern pad Justin & ruth level frame sm WP_20150118_005 cistern sand before gravel sm WP_20150121_002 150121 pad with grave sm l WP_20150121_003 150418 cistern connection to gutter  0957 cistern install overflo valve DSCN0931 150418 good of both & shed 0960
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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.

excavator water pipe trench sm WP_20150603_020 path water valves DSCN0924 PRV between shut off and drain WP_20150604_002 trench with pipe sm WP_20150603_015 backfill from chestnut drain sm WP_20150603_034 small file spigot WP_20150713_004
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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.

lining out path and dirt areas sm WP_20150816_009 Michelle good excavation  20472227378_5a0420249a_o sm retaning wall path sm WP_20150820_008 082015 curves of excavated path sm  WP_20150820_002 fabric cloth under gravel path WP_20150819_001 150822 overall view DSCN1675 150822 max rc jeff w loader DSCN1678 sm 150823 compacting WP_20150823_013 sm 150823 Melton on path WP_20150823_003 sm
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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. .

mound bed WP_20151105_001 sm Renee Liz digging spiral photo7 rubble construction spiral WP_20150909_001 spiral planted WP_20151105_004 sm 150925 long bed layout pre construction Ken IMG_2361 Ken drillling panels sm WP_20150929_002 dirt in long bed WP_20151018_002 sm octagon WP_20151001_003 0ctagon recent WP_20160120_007 151107 Sherry & Annie al fin IMG_2367 nan with hose clamps WP_20160206_011 mix concrete WP_20160207_16_22_00_Pro sm jeff whole system WP_20160112_001
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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