Councilmember Bagshaw left office on December 31, 2019. This website is for archival purposes only and is no longer updated.

Danny Woo Garden: 35 years of Urban Agriculture

There’s been plenty of clucking over the forthcoming urban agriculture legislation, the topic of an upcoming public hearing in Council Chambers at 5:30pm on Wednesday, July 21st. The full aspect of the legislation has been pecked apart and scratched down to the chicken discussion, which would essentially increase the number of domestic fowl allowed on a parcel of land and ban the inclusion of roosters in the list of permitted fowl.

All of that crowing belies the bigger picture – there’s no better time to return to our roots and get our hands dirty in our gardens. The upcoming legislation would amend the Land Use Code governing urban agricultural uses, including allowance for structures that support agricultural uses.

I spent an hour last Friday afternoon at the International District’s Danny Woo Garden, meeting with Jonathan Chen, the delightful garden manager.  The garden will recognize its 35th anniversary this week, and it has much to celebrate.

The original parcel of land was owned by local community leader Danny Woo, and the story has it that “Uncle” Bob Santos firmly negotiated with Danny to secure a long-term, $1 per year lease to turn this rather steep patch of land into a community garden to better serve the neighborhood.

It soon became a phenomenal example of private/public partnership, as the cooperative effort with Department of Transportation, Seattle Parks & Recreation, and Fleets & Facilities tripled the size of the lot to a total of 1.5 acres.

The garden features about 100 plots and the average age of gardeners is 76 years. Most are them hail from China, with a number of Korean, Japanese and Filipino green-thumbs digging alongside them. These are esteemed citizens whose cultural heritage ensured they never lost sight of the value of raising their own food.

If you’re interested in attending the anniversary event, or to simply learn more about InterIm CDA or the Danny Woo Garden, please visit their website. Stop by the garden and understand just how easily we can all shift into urban architecture. The gardeners at Danny Woo make the most out of a limited opportunity to grow their own, and it should be an inspiration to the rest of us.

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