A “pea patch” is a community garden. Since 1973, Seattle’s P-Patch Program (P for the Picardo Farm, Seattle’s first community garden) has served thousands of gardeners. As of 2015, their program now has 90 gardens, over 2000 plots on 32 acres of land that serve 2850 households.
The Pea Patch is 105 x 65 ft. It contains twenty-four 8-ft x 4-ft raised beds, three 8-ft x 8-ft plots, and eleven 8-ft- x 16-ft plots. The minimum fee is $25 for a raised bed. A common area contains compost piles, tool shed and picnic tables. The plot size of other community gardens varies from 80 sq ft to 400 sq ft; Seattle’s program charges an annual application fee of $26, plus $12 for each 100 sq ft gardened ($38 for 100 sq ft).
Members of the Mirrormont Community Association can apply for a plot. There is an annual fee to cover water and joint purchases. There is currently a waiting list. Preference for plots is given to those who volunteer and contribute to maintaining the garden.
Healthy food to share: Many Mirrormont residents love to grow vegetables without sacrificing trees to grow beans and broccoli. Gardeners share their vegetables with friends and neighbors. Excess produce is donated to Issaquah Food and Clothing Bank. In 2016, gardeners donated 723 pounds of veggies.
Community building: Mirrormont Pea Patch has been weaving more community through gardening together, work parties, and bimonthly potlucks. Volunteers talk while working; people stop by on their walks to ask what’s happening. Gardeners are excited about exchanging seeds and seedlings, sharing food, and having potlucks made from the abundance of the garden. The garden is open to anyone who would like to walk through and see what’s growing throughout the year.
Education: Mirrormont Pea Patch is a place to learn together about growing food. Over the years, we’ve had a Master Gardener available at Growing Groceries Clinics or at the garden working on her own plot but available to answer questions. Gardeners are exchanging information about what works and what doesn’t in our microclimate. We occasionally bring in speakers for events open to all Mirrormont residents.
The infrastructure was built using a $10,000 Small Grant from Community Partnerships & Grants (CPG). Only previous partners were eligible, and the MCA qualified based on the success of the CPG-funded Mirrormont Park. With this partnership grant, funds were matched with sweat equity and other donations. Our contributions made possible a project that wouldn’t be feasible with the grant money alone.
The Pea Patch Committee has drafted rules for maintaining the garden. One rule is that each gardener is required to contribute 8 hours annually to maintaining the common space (aside from their plot).