Starting Off Strong in 2021!
Here at Stone Soup Gardens, we’ve had a busy and very exciting start to this new year. With many new residential and community projects on the horizon, our team has dove into educational opportunities to better serve our community.
Leading the Year with Learning RainWise
Although Jake got to facilitate the inaugural Rainwise Academy last year, 2020 was dry for rain gardens at Stone Soup. So we were grateful to kick off 2021 with an edible rain garden installation! We had a wonderful opportunity for the whole team to share knowledge on the installation of rain gardens on a residential site. Guided by RainWise contractor resources, we went over the why and the how of rain garden construction including plumbing material standards, how to plan a rain garden’s depth and size, how to choose plants, and how to create the best drainage and overflow systems. It was a fun collaborative session co-facilitated by our three experienced installers. This impromptu training has ensured that every single one of our team members has intricate knowledge of the design and installation process for RainWise rain gardens.
Fruit Tree Pruning Workshop
We love getting to care for trees, and we love to further our knowledge of how to do so. As part of our team’s monthly education, we had the awesome opportunity to chat with Barb Burrill, an active orchardist involved in the Tilth Alliance, the Seattle Tree Fruit Society, and other groups that look after our city’s plentiful fruit trees. We had an extensive conversation about specific care regimens for all different kinds of fruits, what time of year is best for different kinds of maintenance, and how best to talk to owners of fruit trees about taking care of them. Some of our team has continued to engage and collaborate with Barb and the Tilth Alliance through consistent pruning sessions.
Water Brings Life
We are excited to share our ongoing collaboration with Highline United Methodist Church in Burien. In 2018, we began work with Highline UMC to design the Hazel Valley Community Garden, which aims to improve stormwater mitigation, increase food access, bring neighbors together, and build healthy soil. In 2019, we returned to collaborate with the Nature Stewards to design and install two edible roadside rain gardens, with Tilth Alliance Soil and Water Stewards to build 30 raised vegetable beds in the community garden, and with King Conservation District to fill those raised beds with Hugelkultur fill. You can learn about our involvement at Hazel Valley Community Farm on our portfolio, as well as in KCD’s blog.
This year, we are returning to this site to dive into the next phase of their community installation, a rain-harvesting irrigation system! We will be installing a 6,000 gallon system that will help irrigate the community farm and the growing food forest.
See below for photos of our past installation work at this site, or see our portfolio for more.
RainWise in Columbia City
Have you always wondered about what it takes to put in a raingarden or cistern? Perhaps you've heard of the RainWise Program and have been curious about the rebate process? Or, maybe you haven't heard of either and would absolutely like to find out how to get a rebate on installing these fantastic systems that help prevent and clean up stormwater overflow? Now is your chance! Come visit us in Columbia City - we'll be there to answer all of the above for you!
Northwest Green Building Slam + Summit!
Earth Justice Now!: Building Intersectional Community Spaces
UW Kane Hall - Seattle
1:30 pm, Room 220 - Access and Equity
Tahmina Martelly, World Relief Fund
Kyla Rynard, Alleycat Acres
Jake Harris, Stone Soup Gardens (moderator)
Join Kyla Rudnik of Alleycat Acres, Tahmina Martelly of World Relief Seattle and Jake Harris of Stone Soup Gardens to learn about two community development projects focused on Social Justice and Food Access.
Wetmore Community Farm:
Wetmore Ave was a dead end S-DOT street covered in knotweed that Alleycat Acres opened up and developed into a community farm and food forest. Wetmore Community Farm now is a food hub of an elementary school, the food bank, low income senior housing and a neighborhood in the rapidly changing Rainier Valley.
Paradise Parking Plots:
A recently de-paved church parking lot in Kent is being transformed by World Relief Seattle into a habitat space, a GSI demonstration site and a welcoming community farm for over 50 refugee families.
Both projects had ribbon cuttings this year, and both projects are taking a whole systems approach to their development.
A Tree Toppled Sunny Oasis
Can you believe it has been 80 degrees off and on already this year? Summer is suddenly upon us. We've been cracking on at Stone Soup Gardens this year, so much so that I haven't had a chance to tell you about all the cool gardens we've been creating. This one is particularly close to Stone Soup Gardens heart, as our clients just moved here from Boston to be closer to their grandchild (Little Miss Luna Klein-Harris).
The house initially had a fabulous willow tree in the front yard which was a selling point for the new owners. However, once the fall storms hit last year, the tree split in two with all the rain, and we had no choice but to remove the remainder of the tree. It was a sad day, but it left us with great potential for creating a dappled light garden in front of the house, as well as borders for all of the beds and raingarden. Sometimes, nature destroys and provides.
This project was a huge overhaul! Not only for the garden, but also for the house itself. While we were plugging away on the landscaping, the contractors added a big addition to the home to create a writing nook, as well as indoor access from the garage to the house. Not to mention an entire reconfiguration of the existing space.
Stone Soupers had their hands full as well. We created a new retaining wall around the perimeter of the yard. We interspersed mortarted stone with hand laid stone, as well as a more traditional tumbling rock wall. We built new pathways around the front yard, and added stairs from the driveway up to the entrance of the house for ease of access.
And that is just the front of the house! Along the back of the house, we installed a large cistern. On the side we built out several flower beds using the logs from the old willow tree. We also created a kidney-shaped mortared stone raised bed. Between the garage and the neighbors house we will be installing a flagstone pathway, along with a sun shaped inlaid flagstone patio in the nook outside the back door.
Pretty great, right? Here is the finished garden. We are super pleased with how it turned out. What do you think?
Article By Hannah Kett, The Nature Conservancy - Cities Program Manager
Photo by Hannah Letinich
A year ago, the parking lot at Kent Hillside Church was just that — a parking lot, with moss growing on the cracks and an almost constant stream running along the bottom of it. Today, it is hard to picture what it used to look like. Now, it is now home to 50 garden plots, four cisterns, a tool shed and blossoming community.
You want to read more, don't you?
Keep Reading Here......
Have I mentioned how really spectacular it is that we were chosen to do the design and installation for the Paradise Parking Plots Community Garden? Not to mention that we get to work regularly with World Relief Seattle and the unforgettable Tahmina Martelly. Take a quick gander around 4.10 at the work being done at Paradise. It is truly remarkable and inspirational.
And - come to the Grand Opening at Hillside Church on May 9th - 6 - 8 pm!
Mark your calendar for the grand opening of our community garden! See the parking lot turned garden, and help us celebrate the kick off of the growing season. Join us for tours of the garden, speakers, international food tasting, planting in the demonstration beds, sidewalk chalk, games, face painting, and more!
Address: Hillside Church 930 E James St, Kent, WA 98031
We are converting an acre of paved parking lot space and transforming it into the Paradise Parking Plots community garden with 50 plots, where refugees, immigrants and local community members can gather to grow culturally appropriate foods that promote a healthier lifestyle, improve food access, foster economic independence, and build community. Further, this garden will provide a much needed space for interactive nutrition and health education of youth and adults in the Kent community.
Food Brings a Sense of Community
The Nature Conservancy recently did a piece on our design work at Paradise Parking Plots at Kent Hillside Church in Kent, WA. We couldn't be happier! It is such an amazing project, and so many amazing people are involved in making it happen.
"The day to day uncertainty of being a refugee and immigrant can feel more manageable through the visceral feeling of smelling and tasting familiar food. By creating this community garden, Hillside Church and World Relief Seattle are giving refugees and immigrants a renewed sense of belonging."
Read all about it here:
To find out more about Paradise Parking Plots, follow their Facebook Page:
Our own Stone Soup Crew went to help with the depave project - check out our recap of the events of the day here: www.stonesoupgardens.com/blog/depave-party
Stairway to ... the backyard
For five years our client was unable to reach the backyard from the deck without having to circumnavigate the house. Due to this, the backyard didn't see much action, or much love. In cases like this, it is great to be able to reunite people with the landscapes that they intimately live with.
We designed and built steps from the second floor deck that would enable to owners, their kids, and their dog, the ability to use the backyard as a gathering space. We built a small flagstone patio, and will eventually plant out the garden to create a bit more privacy and greenery to cozy up the area and make it a destination, rather than just an inaccessible eyesore.
We also installed tiered greenbeds in the front yard, and a cistern along the side of the house that they can use to water the vegetables with. All in all, a lovely project, and so great to see the yard become a favorite spot for the family to enjoy.
Stage 3: Next up... plants!
Paradise Parking Plots is hosted at Hillside Church in Kent and is a project with World Relief Seattle. The goal is to transform 2 acres of parking lot into a community farm for the surrounding refugee population which will become a hub for community building through food. Designed by Stone Soup Gardens, Paradise Parking Plots will be a powerful demonstration home to the first raingardens in Kent, will capture part of a 30,000 square foot roof into large cisterns, and will help to turn a natural spring into a habitat pond. (The stream currently runs across the pavement and into a storm drain.)
On June 23rd, Stone Soup Gardens employees went to the first Depave project to help create a garden paradise! Marco, our designer, Patrick, our crew lead, Susan, our Office Manager, and Jake - our esteemed leader headed off to pick up a shovel and lend a few hands.
Here is a look at the overall property before the depave. (The parking lot we were working to remove is the rectangular lot below the church building. )
Thanks to Turner Construction, their fabulous employees, their awesome heavy equipment, tools, and safety gear, along with other volunteers from World Relief Seattle, King County Conservation District, and Hillside Church, we were able to remove most of the asphalt from the parking areas, and put it into large dumpsters to be hauled away.
Great job everyone! We are looking forward to seeing this as it progresses. Check out this article from King 5 about the project.
This is how Stone Soup Gardens rolls - check out our blog for current, upcoming, and past projects, events, and other super cool stuff worth mentioning.