Market Garden Program + Seattle P-Patch Policy

Seattle, WA

Change is hard. And yet it is truly the only constant. In urban neighborhoods, the places we often create a sense of community have also long been where we grow food with (and for) our neighbors. As lead planner at the City of Seattle, Stephen Antupit launched two complementary “social infrastructure” initiatives rooted in urban food gardening. First, he developed the citywide land use policy establishing level-of-service standards for P-Patch community gardens. Then, he crafted a market gardening partnership to supported low-income residents during and after wholesale redevelopment of public housing complexes.

As part of the City of Seattle’s Comprehensive Plan, Stephen garnered the support of advocacy groups and City staff to develop the first-ever citywide land use policy for community gardening. Building on twenty years ad-hoc success of the P-Patch Program, this policy established clear population-based facility size and location guidance. It explicitly linked the community-building and public health value of maintaining and adding beloved community gardens in areas targeted for increased population density and growth.

Stephen then forged a important Market Garden partnership between the City of Seattle’s P-Patch Program and the Seattle Housing Authority’s ambitious redevelopment program. The Market Garden Program first sought to provide a place and activity of stabilization– acknowledging that creating new, connected, and mixed-income neighborhoods in the place of obsolete, dangerous public housing would be traumatically disruptive to tenants choosing to stay through the redevelopment process. Second, it gave the Market Gardeners (many of whom were immigrants and refugees) a first chance to practice small business skills with their neighbors and customers. And third, the program introduced neighbor-shoppers from the surrounding communities to get to know their grower-neighbors, many of whom had lived in isolated, unsafe public housing nearby for years.

Notable challenges + outcomes
Comprehensive Plan Policy under Growth Management Act:

  • first-ever community gardening policy as Community Facility
  • specified linkage between population growth centers and garden locations and sizes

Market Garden Program

  • protected multiple garden sites and established CSA program during development into mixed income communities.
  • provided stable community asset and platform for new relationships across “us/them” divide of (often non-English speaking) public housing residents and surrounding community/customers
  • created partnership among Seattle P-Patch, public housing tenants and Seattle Housing Authority.
  • increased food security and economic self-sufficiency
  • read more about the Seattle Market Garden experience in Eat The City article at Seattle Met Magazine here

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