Monday, July 27, 2009

Vine Street

This evening after work I decided to take a stroll along one of my favorite streets in downtown Seattle, Vine Street.  You see, in addition to being a foodie, I am also a quasi urban planner enthusiast so I always keep an eye out for areas in the city that are pleasant. I suppose we all have our own ideas of what is pleasant, but designing a city for people (most are designed around cars), I must admit, makes me smile and feel good inside.
I once read a chapter all about sidewalks in a book called, the Life and Death of Great American Cities. Before I read it, I thought, how could someone possibly write a whole chapter about the sidewalk? But since reading it, I can't help but look for the perfect one. Vine Street would fall into that category, at least two blocks of it, because it is home to a thriving urban garden, brace yourself, and a bioswale! A bioswale is an ultra nerdy way of saying landscaping planted in a way that is specifically designed to catch storm water runoff from nearby streets and then filter out pollution before it continues on, in this case, into Puget Sound. I am thinking every street should have some sort of bioswale. It is both functional and aesthetic, pleasant to look at and it helps keep the Sound clean.
Bioswales deserve their due attention but my real reason for taking my evening walk on Vine Street was to visit the garden.  Downtown can feel busy at all times but the Belltown P-Patch is an oasis from all the happenings of city life. Recently the City of Seattle received some praise for it's community P-Patch Program. Urbanites all around are participating and buying small sections of garden space on empty city blocks to grow flowers and vegetables. Currently there are 68 gardens in the city. The program serves all citizens with an emphasis on youth, low income, and immigrant populations.  P-Patch community gardeners show their concern for the value of fresh organic vegetables by supplying seven to ten tons of produce to Seattle food banks each year!  
I wondered through the Belltown P-Patch. I saw green tomatoes on their way to ripening, lettuce, corn, peas, herbs, apples, roses, and dahlias, birds were chirping, sprinklers fed the plants, and the bees pollinating.  For a short while I forgot about the city around me.  To learn more, listen to the first radio spot in a series of three about P-Patches and how local gardens are creating local food throughout Seattle neighborhoods.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah I love this story of the Belltown P-Patch. I think the area is so neat too and the flowers are just beautiful. The Capital District Region is also really in to community gardens. In Albany there is an amazing one that I will have to show you and in Troy there are also quite a few. People grow them here because they don't have a lot of money and they share the space to plant gardens that produce food. It's a great way to have local, organic food. I yet to see bioswales anywhere around here though, so... people need to catch on to watch Seattle is doing and create some areas for storm run off!!!!