On March 10th, along with The Mission Continues and other veterans services groups in the area, we laid the concrete foundation for Alessandra Panieri's "Guardian Flower" sculpture, which is now located in the Children's Garden. We completed the installation of the sculpture on March 17th along with community volunteers.
The beautiful steel sculpture is a flower with red birds petals, standing at 15' tall. We are grateful to Alessandra Panieri for her generous donation, Dan Barsher for managing the installation, veterans from The Mission Continues and our community volunteers for their labor and support of this collaboration. Check out more of Alessandra's art at www.alessandrapanieri.com and check out The Mission Continues at www.missioncontinues.org . Happy Spring!
On Thursday March 1st, 25 gardeners from the Namaste Garden in Tukwila traveled to the Danny Woo Community Garden for an exchange of culture, history, and seeds.
The Namaste Garden, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee and St. Thomas Parish, offers access to healthy food, supports the St Thomas food bank, creates educational opportunities for students, and provide local refugees with a place to meet their neighbors and strengthen community ties.
The gardeners who visited are Bhutanese refugees, who were exiled from Bhutan for being of Nepalese descent. In the early 1990s, about 100,000 Nepali-speaking Bhutanese, many of whom came from families that had lived and farmed in southern Bhutan for generations, wound up in refugee camps in eastern Nepal. About 85% of the refugees wound up in the United States, and about 2,000 still live in Washington state, though many have had to move out of state because of the region's high cost of living.
InterIm CDA's Executive Director Pradeepta Upadhyay is originally from Nepal, and greeted the Namaste gardeners and introduced the Danny Woo Community Garden in her native tongue. With the help of Mandarin-to-English and English-to Nepali interpretation, Danny Woo Garden's 94-year-old Elder Xie Pan gave a tour of his garden plots and explained why the Danny Woo Community Garden is important to the community in Chinatown International District. He invited the gardeners to come back later in the season. "In July or August, there will be many vegetables," Pan said. "You can come and take as many as you like!"
After the tour, the gardeners exchanged seeds at Hirabayashi Place, InterIm's newest affordable housing development named after Seattle-native Gordon Hirabayashi, who famously resisted Japanese American Internment and won a Supreme Court Case in 1980. We discussed the history of the Nihonmachi neighborhood and the legacy of Mr. Hirabayashi. Many of the Namaste gardeners, refugees who faced persecution for their ethnic heritage, did not know that the United States government persecuted its own citizens for being of Japanese descent during World War II.
The Danny Woo Community Garden provided seeds to the gardeners, which were donations from Seed Savers Exchange, Kiwazawa Seed Company, and Seattle Seed Company. The Namaste Gardeners generously brought their own saved seeds, including amaranth, bitter melon, and rare varieties of mustard greens from Nepal used to make a dish called Gundruk.
It was a beautiful event and we hope to continue a meaningful relationship with the Namaste Gardeners.
We are very honored to work with artist Alessandra Panieri on an interactive flower design workshop! We have ten spots are open for WILD youth. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206-624-1802 x 28 to register or for more information.
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.
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.