Expert Advice: How to Start Your Own P-Patch

The supply of P-Patches is low, so why not start your own?

Last Saturday I attended a celebration of a brand new P-Patch in West Seattle. Over 40 people attended to mark the event–I was amazed that this many people would show up at 9:00a.m. on a chilly June Saturday that was threatening rain. I knew myself to be a nerdy gardening type, preoccupied with powdery mildew and the pH balance of my soil, but I had no idea the density of nerdy gardeners in my neighborhood was so high!

It turns out that some may have come from other neighborhoods. Many P-Patches around the city have long waitlists–three to five years at the most popular sites (e.g…Queen Anne). Although the most common waitlist time seems to be one to two years, the demand for plots appears to be surpassing the supply at an ever-growing rate. So what’s a person to do if you don’t want to wait two years for a plot? With a little patience, persistence, and help from your nerdy gardening friends, you can start your own P-Patch.

According to the Department of Neighborhoods, and Aaron Hernandez, the driving force behind the West Seattle P-Patch, these are the basic steps to starting your own P-Patch:

1. Find a location for the garden  Variables to consider include the property size; amount of sun; level terrain; location.

2. Contact the city P-Patch Program and the P-Patch Trust  The city P-Patch Program can evaluate your proposed location, help secure access, and according to Hernandez they provided key hand-holding throughout. Both can assist with funding or finding funding for items such as water meters or tools. They also provide support after the garden is completed.

3. Gather friends and volunteers to help design and build the garden. Announcing your search for volunteers in neighborhood blogs, community centers and the like can exponentially increase the number of people involved. Hernandez gained a large number of volunteers by getting word out on the West Seattle Blog, at his church, and even more when the city designated the site opening as an official Clean and Green event.

4. Build your garden

5. Enjoy

Hernandez admits that it took some work but was also worth the effort, “it was challenging, inspiring, and very rewarding. I would absolutely do it all over again.”