P-PATCHES AND GARDENS
March 22, 2013 at 6:23 PM
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.
September 11, 2012 at 3:34 PM
Sketched Sept. 11, 2012 [Click sketch to enlarge]
The Garden of Remembrance in front of Benaroya Hall is dedicated to more than 8,000 Washington State war dead since World War II. On a day like today, when we remember the lives lost on 9/11, I stopped by the memorial and drew this sketch.
All U.S. flags are flying at half-mast. I spotted at least four on my walk back to the office.
August 31, 2012 at 8:11 PM
Sketched Aug. 21, 2012 [Click on sketches to see larger versions]
The Mercer Garage rooftop P-Patch, which opened in early June, is starting to yield some crops.
I tasted a tomatillo from Stephanie Krimmel and Craig Moore’s plot and it was pretty sweet. Who knew you could garden in a few feet of soil laid over concrete?
To help build the P-Patch, the Krimmel-Moore family put in 150 hours of labor — the most of all volunteers vying for a plot. That gave them first choice of the 98, 100-square-foot plots available. They picked one with great views of the garden’s terraces, not to mention the city skyline and the soaring Space Needle.
Being up here, you forget where you are, said Krimmel. “You barely see the cars. You barely hear the street. You are in your own little oasis.”
UpGarden, as the P-Patch is known, occupies about a third of the Mercer Garage rooftop parking space. The sloping ramp where cars used to park is practically unrecognizable. Instead, you see a swath of green surrounding an old Airstream trailer where the urban gardeners keep their tools. A lawn in front of the trailer is the main gathering space, and that’s where I sketched Stephanie Krimmel and Craig Moore as they enjoyed a picnic while their daugther, Bailley, napped.
Scott Mills, a 58-year-old retired truck driver, put in nearly as many hours as the Krimmel-Moore family to qualify for his plot, where he has been growing squash, broccoli and herbs such as basil. He also has built a cool birdhouse that makes his patch stand out. Mills said he doesn’t really eat much of the food he grows; he takes it to food banks instead.
Abbi Engel was eating a carrot when Mills led me to her plot. The 31-year-old biologist said her love for gardening comes from her farming family in Nevada and Idaho. The smell of the tomato plants at Engel’s plot reminded me of my dad’s garden in Extremadura, Spain.
An old purple Ford Galaxy has been converted into a planting bed. Moore, 43, said it is a “good reminder of what was here before.”
Next time you are in lower Queen Anne or park at the Mercer Garage, you may take some time to visit UpGarden. I’d like to know what you think.
What has drawn your attention around Seattle lately? Send me your suggestions of interesting places and people to sketch via e-mail, Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!
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