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May 31

Improving Charlotte's Blueberry Park

Posted on May 31, 2017 at 11:43 AM by Allan Warren

BlueberryPark-3
At the park’s first annual Blueberries & Blues celebration, attendees brought their best recipes to share at the blueberry pie potluck. Here, Metro Parks Tacoma’s Mary Anderson hosts the table while community member Deborah Osborn shows off her homemade blueberry tart. (Photo credit: Jefferson Mok)

Just backstage of Pacific Avenue on the Eastside of Tacoma is Charlotte’s Blueberry Park, a 20 acre former farm with 3,372 heritage blueberry bushes. This public park is a unique attraction in our County, hosting multiple varieties of blueberries that are free for the picking. The park draws visitors from all over the state during the fruiting season, which runs from around July to September depending on the weather. 

A section of the original blueberry farm has been designated as a wetland, and therefore cannot be developed or even officially opened to the public. This land is considered private property of Tacoma Public Schools, but due to multiple constraints, there is no clear next step for development or improvement. This has caused some problems in the local neighborhood, as the wetlands provide a hiding spot for illegal activities. 

After multiple incidents, neighbors have decided to come together and activate the adjacent park so that there is more positive park usage beyond the short fruiting season. Together, they formed the Charlotte’s Blueberry Park Action Group, and have started getting together for weekly park clean ups. One idea the group had for site activation was implementing a community garden. Harvest Pierce County has been assisting the group as they decide what kind of a garden will best serve their community’s needs. Harvest Pierce County also collaborated with the Action Group to host the park’s first annual Blueberries & Blues festival, a kickoff celebration that drew nearly 300 people, all with a love for Blueberry Park in common. 
Over 300 visitors enjoyed blueberry ice cream crafted by local favorite Ice Cream Social, 
and served by All City Ice Cream. Here,
longtime local resident and community leader 
Corina Going is next 
in line for a scoop. What a sweet way to celebrate Charlotte’s Blueberry Park! 
(Photo credit: Jefferson Mok)
BlueberryPark_2ndset-40After seeing Charlotte’s Blueberry Park Action Group come together for over a year, Metro Parks Tacoma (the property owners of Charlotte’s Blueberry Park) have dedicated nearly $200,000 to improvements suggested by the community. These suggestions include an ADA-compliant community garden with a water connection, trail linkage to garden, trash receptacles, benches, a playground, and a half basketball court. Metro Parks Tacoma has committed to breaking ground in March of 2018, and the community is now focusing on the design of the park improvements by brainstorming with a park planner and consultant.

The Blueberry Park Community Garden Meeting happens on the first Tuesday of every month at Grace Missionary Baptist Church (7615 A St.). They will be planning the garden design, as well as their second Blueberries & Blues celebration in the summer.