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New access to previously individual garden beds gives ability to expand giving gardens at the Magnolia Park Manor P-Patch

The P-Patch regularly donates to the Ballard Food Bank and has increased donations as of recent

Tess Petrillo, News Editor

Originally Published June 19, 2020

The P-Patches located all over Seattle have acted as gardening spaces for Seattlelites who live in apartments or homes without yard space. P-Patches such as the Magnolia Manor Park location began growing separate gardens, called the giving gardens, specifically for food to donate to the Ballard Food Bank. 

In the midst of this rising pandemic, members of the Magnolia Manor Park P-Patch have decided to spend less time gardening in order to social distance, leaving part of their personal gardening bed to be turned into a giving garden. 

Giving gardens overseer Rob Williamson has worked at the Magnolia Manor Park P-Patch for five years and explained in a phone interview the importance of these gardening communities. “The P-Patches are located all over the city, and they are primarily there for individuals who live in an apartment or condo and don’t have room in their house.

The plots of the garden beds are anywhere between 100 and 200 feet. We have five plots that are the giving gardens.”

Members of the P-Patch, who already look over their own individual gardens, volunteer to take care of the giving gardens as well. Williamson helps to oversee the care of the giving gardens and make sure the exporting of the produce runs smoothly. 

“We have been donating to the Ballard Food Bank for about three years,” Williamson said. “On a yearly basis we donate about 1600 pounds. The first harvest is about mid-May, and we harvest every week until the harvest ends, which is usually around late November.”

With one member being stuck in her home in Finland from the beginning of the pandemic, and another choosing to spend some time away from their individual garden for personal reasons, the giving garden space has been able to expand. 

Not only has this allowed the P-Patch to donate more to the Ballard Food Bank, it has also opened up the opportunity to grow a wider variety of foods that require more gardening space. 

“With bigger space we are able to grow foods that need more space to grow,” Williamson explains. “We have two gardens set up called the ‘Three Sisters,’ which is a Native American gardening technique that involves putting winter squash in the center of the plot and then you plant corn and beans around it, making them the three sisters– corn, beans and squash.” 

The P-Patch delivers to the food bank whenever it is possible, doing it almost every week. In addition to the normal harvesting, Williamson has been working with volunteers to maximize the amount of growing space in efforts to grow as much food as possible.

“There are restrictions on how many giving gardens a P-Patch can have, as they were created to be a place for individual gardners,” Williamson said. “So at this point the plots we have are at their max.” 

Williamson also explained how the timing of planting and caring of each type of produce requires a lot of attention throughout the entire growing process. 

The aid of all the volunteers working on the giving gardens is entirely responsible for the donations that have been made to the Ballard Food Bank in these difficult times as well as the last few years. 

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New access to previously individual garden beds gives ability to expand giving gardens at the Magnolia Park Manor P-Patch