The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (D.O.N.) is in charge of the Seattle P-Patch Community Garden Program where residents rent a plot of land to grow organic produce for their family, neighbors, and for Seattle Food Banks. The program has been wildly successful with volunteers lining up to contribute thousands of hours of service to this program and tons of organic produce to Seattle's Hungry. The D.O.N. prides itself on "building community" however it is this very community that is now being destroyed by the Department's new mandatory plot downsizing plan which was created behind closed doors without gardener input.
The result is that 105 Seattle Community Gardeners, at least 60 of whom are low income and/or new immigrants, will be forced to relinquish up to 1/2 or more of their garden space. The alleged reason is to make room for new gardeners and to increase "fairness and transparency". There is nothing fair, nor transparent, about how this decision was made plus there are many other reasonable solutions of how to make room for new gardeners while respecting the invaluable contributions of current gardeners.
A group of concerned gardeners has tried on multiple occasions and in a variety of ways to work collaboratively with the Department, asking them to call a moratorium on this damaging decision, and asking that our input and that of those on the waitlist and the P-Patch Trust be included. The Department of Neighborhoods has repeatedly and resolutely rejected our request.
We the undersigned, call on Mayor Mike McGinn, Council Members Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin, Nick Licata, and the Department of Neighborhoods Director Bernie Matsuno to immediately:
1. Call a halt to the mandatory garden plot downsizing of low income, immigrant, and other productive Seattle community gardeners!
2. Honor your commitment to "building community" by involving us in decisions regarding public land set aside for gardens.
3. Return to Participatory Democracy where Government truly is for the people, of the people, and by the people.
4. Respect the enormous contributions of volunteers that are the backbone of Seattle's P-Patch Community Garden Program. We are the community in community gardening!
5. Build more gardens, not ill will and resentment!
6. Collaborate with us, instead of colluding against us!