Posted on March 5, 2019 at 8:46 AM by Allan Warren
Garden Co-Coordinators Anthony Bradley and Corina Going have been preparing for the BPG for three years, and are now enjoying the harvest with the community.
The Blueberry Park Garden is the story of how a little space can have a big impact. As the name implies, you’ll find the Blueberry Park Garden (or the BPG, as they call themselves) at the corner of Charlotte’s Blueberry Park in Southeast Tacoma. The BPG is the result of over three years of planning and organizing led by the Charlotte’s Blueberry Park Action Group, in partnership with Harvest Pierce County and supported by Metro Parks Tacoma. The Action Group started as a way for neighbors that came together to clean, activate, and care for their neighborhood. Informed by the Action Group’s energy and community input, Metro Parks Tacoma has dedicated nearly $200,000 to park improvements, including an ADA-compliant community garden with a water connection, and a playground that is still being planned.
As soon as the garden had its grand opening in the summer of 2018, the BPG members immediately began planting and harvesting together, and were even ready to participate in the Harvest Pierce County’s Annual Community Garden Tour in September. That day, the gardeners harvested, washed, bagged, and shared greens with all attendees. They even had enough left over to donate to the food banks. “We ended up harvesting over two hundred bags of lettuce greens, and over two hundred bundles of kale and chard,” reported BPG Garden Garden Co-Coordinator Anthony Bradley, “it was bountiful.”
The BPG is one of the few community gardens operating with this collective model. Our County has eighty community gardens, and over ninety percent of them assign plots to individuals or families. Many gardens do have some plots that they garden communally, especially to donate to food banks, but they are still generally structured as plots or raised beds.
In contrast, the BPG’s main space is set up farm-style, with long, in-ground rows. This means that though the BPG is relatively the same size as the standard community garden, it has the capacity to grow significantly more food. It also has the ability to host more members, since they can have large group work parties, then harvest hundreds of pounds of produce together for their families and neighbors.
“For now, we call it 3C Gardening, patent pending” jokes Bradley. The three C’s stand for Communal, Collective, and Commercial; all important elements that make up the gardeners’ interests in the project. BPG members are not allowed to sell what is grown in the garden since it is a public space, but BPG is not selling. What they mean by “Commercial” is the level and style of production, as well as the fact that many BPG members aspire to have their own small scale farming business one day. For now, they practice growing together to learn, and what they produce benefits the community around them.
Fitting in with their value of Community, the BPG members have started a monthly tradition of serving a garden fresh meal at their planning meetings. This makes meetings fun and celebratory, and helps members share ideas around how to enjoy their abundant harvests.
Come celebrate Blueberry Park for the Fourth Annual Blueberries & Blues celebration, date TBA but usually in July. Stay tuned for the next issue of the Tahoma View and/or follow Harvest Pierce County on Facebook (@harvestpiercecounty) to be the first to know when the date is announced.