We had to backtrack a bit to give you a more in-depth look at our days in Seattle, Washington!
What an incredible feeling it has been to finally have reached the West Coast in our mobile farm! There was an immediate mental shift for our crew of four as we pulled into the hills of downtown Seattle. We could no longer travel any further west…. With misty mountains jutting out of Lake Washington all around us, we felt like we were in a different country. The views were breathtaking and the hills of downtown were staggering. We shared some incredible meals, visited some unique urban farms, toured the bus for countless groups and left with a sense that the food movement in Seattle is alive in well!
Our first workday was one of our favorite stops on this trip. A group in the area called “Lettuce Link” (what a great name!) helps to operate a handful of urban farms around the city. Marra Farm in particular is one of the oldest urban agriculture sites in the state. With a flourishing immigrant population in the areas surrounding Marra Farm, the crops grown on this five acre plot are as diverse as the farmers that grown them. It is a beautiful place, filled with history, culture and innovation. We had the chance to sit down with Sue, the farm director, and talk for over an hour about the state of our food system, the farm bill in this country, and the role of small scale urban agriculture. Needless to say, we loved picking Sue’s brain and sharing time in the bus with her.
We also got a special visit at Marra Farm from the PBS crew from the show “Growing a Greener World”. The show has been supporting our project since the very beginning and it was wonderful to reconnect with them on the other side of the country. Throughout the day we got to both work on the farm and film with the crew. Growing a Greener World will be airing a twenty minute episode on our entire cross county tour in early December. They have played a big role in our trip this year and we are so grateful. This is what the crew calls a “farmer mug shot!”
During our time at Marra Farm, we also got to participate in a fall harvest with local elementary schools. The morning was spent introducing the kids to the farm and harvesting produce for the local food bank. Among the vegetables gathered the kids brought in squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, radishes, lettuce, and pole beans. After washing all of the produce in their large outdoor kitchen and talking about parts of the plant, we broke for lunch and prepared the bus for tours. During the afternoon, we led countless walks through the Sol Food bus and connected kids to plants in the greenhouse that they may have harvested out on the farm. The reactions were awesome! Seeing kids stick their head through the ceiling to check out the living green roof will never get old.
That night, after the harvest, we accompanied Sue and other food activists for a community film night. Each month this event brings out almost a hundred people, all who are interested in the developing food movement. People came from all across the city to network with other local gardeners and farmers. It just so happened that the film being shown that night was a documentary called “We Are Not Ghosts” about the revival of Detroit through urban food production. See the preview here:
We could not believe our luck. For an entire hour and a half, we watched as familiar faces from our time in Detroit spoke about their city and the wonderful progress going on there. Many of the speakers from the film were community activists that we had worked with directly or had heard about through the grapevine. It was an incredible experience and it made us miss the city of Detroit all over again. Our time there, gardening and farming and connecting, made an impact that will stay with us for years to come. The evening ended with a group discussion on the film and the national struggle for food security. It was the perfect event to get us rooted in Seattle and to meet some of the key players of the movement there.
Another great organization that we worked with in the area was Seattle Tilth. Much like Lettuce Link, Seattle Tilth operates tons of urban farms across the city and is growing its outreach every season. We spent two full days out at the Ranier Beach Farm and got to connect with their program. The first day was busy and filled with farm visitors. That, Saturday the farm was hosting a celebration day for refugee community members in the area. We met people that day who were from all over the world and had found their home here in Seattle. Seattle Tilth had arranged farm plots for this community and now the fields are alive with unique crops and diverse farming techniques. The rest of our time spent with Seattle Tilth was designated to building worm composting boxes that would double as garden benches. It was great to assist on such a great farm and also have something permanent to leave behind with them.
Our time in Seattle was short but wonderfully spent! We saw good family friends of ours for dinner one night, picked up waste vegetable oil from a local restaurant and walked through Pike’s Market. Just for the record, driving a vehicle that is 38 feet long through downtown Seattle is a tricky business and not one that we recommend. But it unintentionally provided great publicity for the bus as it chugged its way out of town and south to Oregon.