PHOTO ESSAY: Community Fuels Plan for an Equitable Food System by Urban Farm

0

by Sidney Aspinall and Azeb Tuji


Since 2017, the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands (RBUFW) has been operated jointly by the Tilth Alliance and the Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands.

“RBUFW is unique because it’s a working farm in the middle of the community and really focused on food production. [and] Learning to eat,” said Melissa Spear, executive director at Tilth Alliance.

Tilth’s public relations work for Rainier Beach Farm focuses on South Seattle and recognizes the diverse needs of the immigrant and refugee communities in the neighborhood.

The Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands farm stand remains empty. “It’s a pay-what-you-can farm,” says Tilth Alliance executive director Melissa Spear. “You can get up to $20 worth of products for free.” (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)

“The other interesting thing about the way we run RBUFW is that not all programs are [the Tilth Alliance’s] programs. We have many programs run by other community members who just run the site. We work with them, we work with them, we support them,” Spear said.

Spring crops begin to grow on land behind a wooden fence at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands
Spring crops begin to grow at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. The farm has large fields where members grow various types of vegetables that are harvested later in the season. (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)

She says the importance of learning to grow food is the ability to give people control and sovereignty over their access to food. “It’s less about, ‘Am I making enough money? Can I afford to go to the grocery store?’ Growing your own food gives you a sense of control over what you eat, and it’s healthy too.”

Burlap sacks lie in the dirt in various planting strips at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands
Burlap sacks lie in the dirt in various planting strips at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. The sacks are an important natural way to retain heat and ensure the soil stays moist. (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)
A sales table at the Tilth Alliance Edible Plant Sale in Wallingford
The Tilth Alliance Edible Plant Sale is an annual event and this year was held in Wallingford. It houses independent vendors in the front whom it invited to dine; This tent was among those set up in the area. (Photo: Azeb Tuji)
Gayle Sutherland, 54, Tilth Alliance Development Director, rearranges squash plants on display at the Tilth Alliance edible plant sale in Wallingford
Gayle Sutherland, 54, Tilth Alliance Development Director, rearranges squash plants on display at the Tilth Alliance edible plant sale in Wallingford. She said, “It’s not just Tilth; it’s the whole community that makes it possible,” when asked about the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and wetlands. (Photo: Azeb Tuji)
Greenhouse #4 at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands
Numbered greenhouses remain empty at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. Volunteers are working to get the greenhouses up and running again as improved air circulation allows them to be filled with crops for the farm. (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)
Salad and other appetizers sit on a table outside of the greenhouses at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands
Salad and other appetizers sit on a table outside of the greenhouses at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. The farm focuses on agroecology by growing organic produce and food grown in harmony with the environment. (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)
Community members browse the range of edible plants and herbs available at the Tilth Alliance Edible Plant Sale in Wallingford
Community members browse the range of edible plants and herbs available at the Tilth Alliance Edible Plant Sale in Wallingford. (Photo: Azeb Tuji)
A bulletin board displays a map and messages about what is happening at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands
A bulletin board displays a map and messages about what is happening at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. The farm works with organizations and businesses in the Rainier Beach community to host events throughout the year that members of the community can participate in, such as classes and workshops. (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)
Nancy Caballero, 25, Tilth Alliance youth and family coordinator, checks inventory at the Tilth Alliance edible plant sale in Wallingford
Nancy Caballero, 25, Tilth Alliance youth and family coordinator, checks inventory at the Tilth Alliance edible plant sale in Wallingford. Nancy highlighted the scholarship opportunities that youth can attend, summer camps, and year-round programs that Tilth offers. (Photo: Azeb Tuji)
Bees swarm around beehives in the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetland apiary
Bees swarm around beehives in the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetland apiary. The farm offers many educational programs for adults in March-April, such as: B. Beekeeping courses for beginners. (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)
The arm and hand of a young volunteer selling edible plants from the Tilth Alliance in Wallingford
Vera Danges, 11, volunteers at the Tilth Alliance’s edible plant sales in Wallingford. She lives in the neighborhood and has been coming to the sale with her mom for years, but volunteered for the first time today. (Photo: Azeb Tuji)
A plaque shows <a class=vegetables that can be picked at the Community U-Pick Garden at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands” class=”wp-image-89311 jetpack-lazy-image” data-recalc-dims=”1″ data-lazy-srcset=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022_05.08_TilthAllianceEdiblePlantSale_Chalkboard_bySidneyAspinall.jpg?resize=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022_05.08_TilthAllianceEdiblePlantSale_Chalkboard_bySidneyAspinall.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022_05.08_TilthAllianceEdiblePlantSale_Chalkboard_bySidneyAspinall.jpg?resize=150%2C100&ssl=1 150w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022_05.08_TilthAllianceEdiblePlantSale_Chalkboard_bySidneyAspinall.jpg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022_05.08_TilthAllianceEdiblePlantSale_Chalkboard_bySidneyAspinall.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w, https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022_05.08_TilthAllianceEdiblePlantSale_Chalkboard_bySidneyAspinall.jpg?w=948&ssl=1 948w” data-lazy-sizes=”(max-width: 474px) 100vw, 474px” data-lazy-src=”https://i0.wp.com/southseattleemerald.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/2022_05.08_TilthAllianceEdiblePlantSale_Chalkboard_bySidneyAspinall.jpg?resize=474%2C316&is-pending-load=1#038;ssl=1″ srcset=”data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7″/>
A plaque shows vegetables that can be picked at the Community U-Pick Garden at Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands. Community members are encouraged to harvest fresh produce throughout the season. (Photo: Sidney Aspinall)
Shojun Ritnoppakum, Martin Ritnoppakum and Lena Dong (left to right) pose for a portrait near the tables of independent vendors at the Tilth Alliance Edible Plant Sale in Wallingford
Shojun Ritnoppakum, Martin Ritnoppakum and Lena Dong (left to right) pose for a portrait near the tables of independent vendors at the Tilth Alliance Edible Plant Sale in Wallingford. (Photo: Azeb Tuji)

Sydney Aspinall was born and raised just outside of Seattle in the small town of North Bend, Washington. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Washington, majoring in Journalism and Communications of Public Interest and French.

Azeb Tuji is an interdisciplinary artist, multimedia writer, and community activist with a passion for advocating for voices that are often marginalized. They are currently graduating from the University of Washington with majors in Journalism and Communications of Public Interest.

📸 Featured image: Larry Bosley, Dijana Steward and Alina Mikolajczyk (left to right) at the Tilth Alliance edible plant sale in Wallingford on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (Photo: Azeb Tuji)

Before you move on to the next story …
Please consider that the article you just read was made possible by the generous financial support of donors and sponsors. The Emerald is a BIPOC-led nonprofit news outlet with the mission of offering a wider lens of our region’s most diverse, least affluent, and woefully under-reported communities. Please consider making a one-time gift or, better yet, joining our Rainmaker Family by becoming a monthly donor. Your support will help provide fair pay for our journalists and enable them to continue writing the important stories that offer relevant news, information, and analysis. Support the Emerald!
Share.

Comments are closed.