In order to create resilient food systems and increase access to healthy and local food, we must first cultivate knowledge in the minds of the seedlings of the human family--the youth. This Tuesday WILD teenagers aged 14-18 hailing from Cleveland, Garfield, Franklin, West Seattle, and Summit High Schools joined Garden Crew at the Danny Woo Community Garden. Each week they will be participating in our Garden Crew, starting indoors planning for spring, and eventually gardening outdoors as the sun begins to set later in the evening.
For the first week of WILD’s Garden Crew, students grew their own knowledge of food justice by first learning about how plants interact with the big and small living and non-living variables of the garden ecosystem. Participating in an interactive game developed by WILD staff, youth played the roles of different garden actors, ranging from seed and sun, atmosphere and soil, to worms, bacteria, and compost. In order to show how plants interact with the environment around them, WILD youth simulated the nutrient, energy, carbon, and water cycle and even went as far as learning about how drought, industrial agriculture, and climate change affect natural growing cycles. More importantly, WILD youth discovered that through carbon sequestration, plants and food production can actually mitigate climate change and protect the environment while nourishing healthy communities.
Finally, after putting themselves into the unseen world of the garden ecosystem, WILD participants took the first step towards growing healthy food in their own communities by selecting, learning about, and planting seeds in indoors. Now that they know how to give seeds the best chances of reaching maturity, WILD youth will watch their seedlings grow and mature in the indoor seedling station until the time arrives at the end of the winter quarter to plant those seedlings in the Danny Woo Community Garden and elsewhere in their own neighborhoods. As with plants, the food justice movement takes time to grow and put down roots but, it always begins with planting a few seeds, both the seeds of knowledge and some literal seeds in our case. Both will take time to grow, but we’re already expecting a bountiful harvest for the future!
On Monday, January 15th the Danny Woo Community Garden celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by bringing in community members, the University of Washington Graduate Students from the Graduate Opportunities and Minority Achievement Program (GO-MAP), and Director of Seattle Public Utilities Mami Hara to contribute to our own Beloved Community. We are so grateful for the intention and hard work from these individuals and groups.
Maggie and Chloe’s Experience at the Danny Woo Community Garden
For the past year we have been lucky to have Dartmouth College Environmental Studies student Margarita Ren working with us at InterIm and in the Danny Woo Community Garden, researching agroecology and resilience practices for her undergraduate thesis. Ren conducted 29 official interviews in the past year with gardeners, and also spent time helping gardeners in their plots, listening to their stories, sharing meals with them, and consequently creating meaningful friendships. Ren’s work has deepened our understanding of what the Danny Woo Community Garden provides our community in the C-ID and how the cultural and ecological benefits gardeners provide are inextricable to each other.
Her research “examines the role of the entangled interaction of biodiversity and cultural diversity—biocultural diversity—in fostering resilience in the Danny Woo Community Garden, against the backdrop of continued local Asian American activist histories in resisting gentrification.”
In her preliminary research she has examined how gardeners share knowledge and seeds with each other, how cultures of care and self-reliance create resilient systems, and also how issues of displacement and housing affordability have affected the biocultural diversity of the garden.
We are pleased to share some of her preliminary research with you on our blog.
[The following are excerpts from Margarita Y. Ren’s UGAR Summer 2017 Research Summary Report]
“In Winter of 2017, I interviewed 10 Chinese-American gardeners utilizing a semi-structured interview script. I found that the biodiversity cultivated in these plots of the garden has been highly relevant to Chinese American food cultures. Gardeners have planted a mix of majority familiar plants grown in China, such as 莴笋or celtuce, but also plants that have become familiar through their interactions with American food, such as snow peas. Gardeners share these culturally relevant produce and gardening habits with their neighbors, teaching each other about the provincial similarities and differences in Chinese diets and experimenting with growing unfamiliar vegetables along these lines.
Gardeners view gardening as a culturally relevant way of taking agency in caring for their own health, physically through consumption and the physical exercise of gardening as well as emotionally through building strong social ties fostered through the act of sharing knowledge and produce.
….These gardeners spoke Mandarin Chinese, Shanghainese Chinese, Cantonese Chinese, Toisan Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese, seven of the nine languages and dialects within the garden.
My preliminary research suggests the following emerging themes... the importance of self-determination in the diverse linkages that comprise a resilient system. For example, gardeners often described the importance of the garden through their sense of self as continuing to be caregivers, rather than how they are constructed as requiring caretakers due to their age. Most noticeably, this self-determination socially can be seen in fostering the reciprocal care integral to this community’s formation and continued flourishing.
Gardeners have often echoed the phrase “互相帮忙” or “helping each other” as descriptive of the community found within the garden.
Helping water a neighbor’s plot that had been looking dry has been one of the more common examples of “互相帮忙”. Furthermore, the phrase is often invoked in the community trying to settle any conflicts between gardeners.
The second theme concerns how biodiversity is contingent on these systems of care that have expanded community. Not only has the garden provided a space for community building across ethnic boundaries and language barriers, the primary way this bridging has occurred is through the inclusion of cultivated plants in thought processes on reciprocal care.
Gardeners ask about each other’s plants similarly to how people ask about how family members are doing. One gardener agreed that she viewed her plants has her children.
On the other hand, these plants physically nourish the gardeners nutritionally and mentally nourish the gardeners as this garden is the only green space in the district. One gardener told me that her favorite thing to do was to sit on a stool in her plot after the day’s watering and weeding to just enjoy observing the plants.
The third theme considers how higher scale political tensions involving environmental justice issues of gentrification constrain community formation and biocultural diversity in the garden. The Danny Woo Community Garden’s existence as the only green space in the district has attracted another potentially vulnerable population within the district—the growing population of “regulars,” a mix of individuals who spend time in the shaded areas at the garden’s peripheries. Some of these people have been currently/former homeless and/or houseless and/or unemployed. While definitions of community have expanded to include cultivated plants and different gardeners of ethnicities and languages, the gardener’s various descriptions of the “regulars” demonstrate this expansion of community may be limited.
I am considering how the histories of transnational immigration, American racism and classism, and the constant threats of gentrification that have stressed the district’s ability to distribute resources adequately may nuance this discussion. How might garden practices to create solidarity and continue to expand understandings of community? How do these current constraints affect biocultural diversity in the garden?"
We thank Margarita for her tireless and passionate work ethic, and for her attentive interest in the Danny Woo Community Garden and its gardeners. We have learned so much from her research so far, and we look forward to further developments as she finishes her thesis!
DWCG is looking for a C-ID community member who loves chickens and the Danny Woo Community Garden!
The DWCG is home to 16 chickens, almost all different breeds. While gardeners feed and water the chickens daily in exchange for eggs, the chicken intern manages the coop, communicates with the gardener chicken volunteers, and is the eyes and ears of our feathered friends for their health and happiness.
This is a weekly and on-going commitment. We prefer that the chicken intern lives relatively close by, speaks English and Chinese, and has prior experience with chickens and gardening.
Contact the DWCG manager at: email@example.com or call 206-624-1802 x 28.
Despite Seattle's temperamental weather (rain, sun, and snow all within the hour?!) the Danny Woo Community Garden is ready to welcome children and youth for spring and summer programming! Our 1.5 acre community garden features a dedicated children's garden within the larger elder community garden, a chicken coop, over 60 fruit trees, and an outdoor kitchen. There is no cost for tours, however donations are welcome and will directly benefit our garden.
If you have a group of 5-20 children or youth (ages 4 years to 18 years) who want to steward the earth, explore gardening through a social justice lens, and maybe even cook a little, then the Danny Woo Children's Garden is just the place for you! We are happy to tailor field trips to the needs of your group. Common foci of our programming include:
If you're ready to schedule your tour today, contact us using the form below. Make sure to include your organization's name, ideal tour date and time, size of your group, and age range of your children/youth. We'll get back to you within a week of receipt.
Last month, the garden welcomed Megan, our new Volunteer Coordinator, to the Danny Woo team! Megan joins us through the Jesuit Volunteer Corps program--a division of AmeriCorps--and has taken on volunteer management for the garden, while also supporting several other community based programs of InterIm CDA.
Megan is a first time Seattleite who relocated from Grand Rapids, MI. She recently graduated from Aquinas College with a bachelor's degree in Sustainable Business. Megan is settling in to the PNW lifestyle quite well by taping into her love of the outdoors, kayaking, and biking. She's having a great time exploring Seattle's vibrant food scene and our extensive network of parks.
What excites Megan most about her new role at InterIm CDA is the opportunity to dive deep into C-ID's history and to be able to work alongside our elder gardeners. She's particularly eager to learn more about our gardeners' traditional growing methods!
Please join us in welcoming Megan to the Danny Woo Community Garden! If you'd like to connect with Megan about volunteer opportunities drop her an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last Thursday, we celebrated 41 years of food justice at the Danny Woo Community Garden at our first annual CULTIVATE happy hour benefit. We had an absolute blast turning the garden's outdoor kitchen into a bumpin' party spot, complete with music, fresh flowers from Kamayan Farm, wine, small bites, and forty guests!
The focus of the evening was to celebrate the contributions communities of color have and continue to make to the garden's and Seattle's wider food justice movement. We were lucky enough to feature small bites from Chef Tarik, Food and Sh*t, and Hood Famous Bakeshop, while also creating our own bite using garden grown tomatoes, Essential Baking Co. bread, Beecher's cheese, and That Brown Girl Cooks' hummus! Guests were able to wash these bites down with local wine, DRY Soda, and strawberry water using fruit from the garden.
Check out the photos from the evening! We are so grateful to all those who supported the garden last Thursday and can't wait to see you and more of the community at next year's bigger and better CULTIVATE happy hour!
All photos courtesy of Brenda Luu
Couldn't make it to CULTIVATE?
You can still support our work in food and environmental justice through a donation designated to the Danny Woo Community Garden via InterIm CDA's donation page. You can also become a Friend of the Danny Woo Community Garden to receive updates on future events!
Thank you again to all who joined us at CULTIVATE!
Ms. Lai's Story
Ms. Lai is a relatively new member of the Danny Woo Community Garden, with just one year under her belt as one of our elder gardeners. But don't underestimate her growing skills, Ms. Lai was a career farmer in her home country of Hong Kong.
After moving to Seattle in 1993, she fell very homesick for her friends and family back in Hong Kong. She took whatever opportunity she could to visit home and stay connected to her roots. Through the years however, she was able to build a community within Chinatown/International District and noticed many of her new friends were growing at the Danny Woo Community Garden. In 2015, she joined them as one of our gardeners. Most recently, she was delighted to relocate to a plot that neighbors one of her closest friends of over 20 years. Ms. Lai treats gardening as her daily form of exercise. She loves planting potatoes, lettuce, and squash.
This week's story was authored by youth from ACRS's Job Readiness Program who have been working alongside our elder gardens all spring. Youth developed interview questions, conducted interviews with the elder gardeners, and translated their stories into English. This was a special project as part of the intergenerational programming in the garden.
The Danny Woo Community Garden is a 1.5 acre edible growing space located in the heart of Seattle's Chinatown/International District. The garden has been a place for elders to grow for over 40 years and is also home to a children's garden, chicken coop, and outdoor kitchen. Visit us at 620 S. Main St., Seattle, WA 98104.