Sketched March 13, 2013
It has nothing to do with peas.
The P in P-Patch comes from the Picardos, the family of Italian immigrants who farmed the land in Wedgwood where Seattle’s first community garden was established in 1973.
“This is a unique Seattle term,” said Milton Tam, a gardener who coordinates the 2-acre site and the nearly 600 fellow volunteers eager to see spring coming around.
The Picardo Patch is a remnant of the neighborhood’s semirural past, when it was outside the city limits. Since the 1920s, family patriarch Ernesto Picardo grew vegetables to sell in Seattle, but after he died in 1961, the land sat unused for years. Eventually, with permission from the family, neighbors began farming a portion of the fertile soil, which the city purchased to preserve the community-gardening experience. Thus, Seattle’s original P-Patch was born.
Forty years later, an urban-gardening movement seems well-rooted in the city. You could say that the P in P-Patch also stands for something else: Popular. Just to get one of the estimated 270 plots at Picardo’s, people have to wait “six months to a year,” said Tam.
Milton Tam started gardening at the Picardo Patch seven years ago. He suggested I come back in the summer, when one of the gardeners cooks a really good paella.
The University Prep school building south of the patch offered a great vantage point to sketch this view and stay away from the drizzle. The garden extends a little further to the left until it meets 25th Avenue NE. Tam said anyone is welcome to take a stroll through the garden, as it is a public property.