Come to meeting Nov. 11 to discuss new community garden for Tukwila; Cascade Land Conservancy organizing

The Cascade Land Conservancy is trying to gauge interest in a new community garden for Tukwila. The project could be developed on property owned by St. Thomas Catholic Church, adjacent to Foster High School. Skye Schell, community engagement manager for the Cascade Land Conservancy, said the idea began as a project that the local Burmese refugee community could do, but has since broadened out in scope to potentially include anyone in the Tukwila community who has a love of gardening and agriculture. Just how much community involvement there could be in such a project is what the Cascade Land Conservancy is now trying to determine. "What we really need are people from the community," he said, speaking Thursday. "People willing to step up and fill these roles." With that in mind, the Cascade Land Conservancy has organized a meeting for 6 p.m. Nov. 11 at St. Thomas Church (4415 S. 140th St.) to see how much interest there is for such a garden.

A new community place to grow fresh produce is the topic of a Nov. 11 meeting in Tukwila.

The Cascade Land Conservancy is trying to gauge interest in a new community garden for Tukwila.

The project could be developed on property owned by St. Thomas Catholic Church, adjacent to Foster High School.

Skye Schell, community engagement manager for the Cascade Land Conservancy, said the idea began as a project that the local Burmese refugee community could do, but has since broadened out in scope to potentially include anyone in the Tukwila community who has a love of gardening and agriculture.

Just how much community involvement there could be in such a project is what the Cascade Land Conservancy is now trying to determine.

“What we really need are people from the community,” he said, speaking Thursday. “People willing to step up and fill these roles.”

With that in mind, the Cascade Land Conservancy has organized a meeting for 6 p.m. Nov. 11 at St. Thomas Church (4415 S. 140th St.) to see how much interest there is for such a garden.

Schell outlined what a community garden could provide: individual plots for gardeners to grow their own food; an agricultural project with special focus on Tukwila’s immigrant and refugee communities; fresh produce for local food banks; and an opportunity for Foster High School teachers and students to be involved in a community project.

Simon Kihn, founder of the Coalition for Refugees from Burma, affirmed Friday that his group had been in discussions about developing a community garden in Tukwila.

Gardening – and agriculture in general – Kihn said, is an important part of Burmese culture.

“In Burma, especially in the countryside, farming is pretty much the only thing they do,” he said. “If you don’t own land, you work for somebody else on their farm.”

And even if you’re not growing things on a farm, he added, you’re growing produce on a garden plot.

“It’s part of the natural skills to grow something if there is an empty spot,” he added.

Growing produce in a community setting also could help to grow something else:

Solidarity with one’s neighbors, regardless of nationality.

“It would be a good project to have the local community exposed to the refugee community, and vice versa,” Kihn said.

While there are differences in farming in Burma versus gardening in Tukwila: different seasons, different crops, different cultures, different expectations; Kihn held out hope the concept would fly.

“I think we have a pretty good chance of succeeding,” he said.

Learn more

What: Tukwila Community Garden Organizing Party

When: 6-8 p.m. Nov. 11

Where: St. Thomas Church, 4415 S. 140th St., Tukwila

RSVP: Cascade Land Conservancy is asking people to RSVP so that they will know how much food to bring to the event. Go online to www.casadeland.org/events/tukwilagarden, or call Skye Schell at 206-905-6891.

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