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.
NW Permaculture Convergence
Clark County Fairgrounds
17402 NE Delfel Rd
Ridgefield, WA 98642
September 22 - 24th
"Greywater: 101" with Patrick Loderhose
Saturday, Sept 30th, 10:45 am
Greywater, water from sinks, showers, and washing machines, is a great source of irrigation and can greatly reduce your outdoor water use. Greywater systems are especially important in times of drought. Come learn about popular greywater systems, design considerations, water saving potential, costs, regulations, health and safety, soaps and products, and how to choose a system that is a good match for your home and landscape.
"Building Bridges With City Infrastructure" with Jake Harris
Saturday, Sept 30th, 2 pm
Stone Soup Gardens is a whole systems permaculture-based design and build company in Seattle. We work with community and city collaborators creating awesome Urban Farms, and Stormwater Management systems. Join us as we share our experiences working with Alley Cat Acres and the Department of Transportation on turning a city designated street into a food bank farm, collaborating with World Relief and the City of Kent on turning 2 acres of parking lot into a community farm for refugees that will filter rain runoff, and our ongoing work with Seattle Public Utilities Rain Wise Program installing edible rain gardens and cisterns aiding in cleaning our watershed. Owner Jake Harris is looking forward to sharing a conversation about our successes and challenges in creating public permaculture connections.
For more information, or to register for the day: http://northwestpermaculture.org/
KCD has prepared a self-guided tour map of Hügelkultur sites across King County, and one of our Stone Soup client gardens is on the map! Now the Hugel-curious can see different forms of Hugelkultur (from urban to rural, from in-ground to raised containers). Visit 6 of the 10 sites and receive a Hugelkultur t-shirt (while supplies last).
Click here for the map!
With Seattle being hilly, yard space is often sculpted around unusual terrain. We see this fairly often, and find many owners that are at a loss on how to take full advantage of these uneven spaces. As well as being difficult to envision, the spaces are generally hard to tame, manage, or manipulate into something worth enjoying.
Stone Soup Gardens loves these kinds of challenges. Whether you have a steep slope, a soggy pit, or a hilly blackberry divide, we can turn your unused space into something for you and your family to enjoy. We can create a functional area for growing edible plants, or create a level retreat for those sunny spring and summer days.
One of our clients in Columbia City has just such a space. While the yard area itself is fairly level, it is raised up sharply on a hill overlooking the street, and the backyard was a bramble patch. Seeing the unused potential of the area, our client contacted us to see what we could do. Hence, the great berry wall came into play.
The great berry wall was built using downed timber from a local contact. We had the majority of the logs cut to a specific size, while others we trimmed to create easy step access in and out of the raised bed. This allows for ease of picking as the berries come into season, as well as for watering and pruning once summer and fall roll around.
We planted the raised bed out with different types of raspberries, strawberries, gumi berries, lingon berries, thimbleberry, chilean guava, lavender, and sage, as well as espalier apples and pears, chives, and red flowering currant in other parts of the yard. This means that there will be a good selection of plants that stay green throughout the year, as well as those that will shed their leaves during the winter. It also creates a nice color palette for the eyes, as well as flavors for the mouth!
For a bit of flare, we also included a bike wheel arbor along the front wall of the house, which was a great way to add interest, while providing a surface for things to climb on. We installed a laundry to landscape greywater system in the front yard which will water the espalier trees and herbs, and in the backyard we installed a cistern to side sewer which will provide water for the raised bed in the backyard.
Take a look at the project beforehand:
And here it is now:
The Northwest Permaculture Convergence (NWPCC) is an inclusive annual weekend-long event that alternates between Oregon and Washington State. The Convergence brings together a remarkable diversity of people, all with creative approaches for designing living environments, and economic and culture systems that thrive within ecologically sustainable limits.
This year, Stone Soup Gardens, along with ten of our awesome crew members, stormed the Annual NW Permaculture Convergence by land and by Puget Sound! Stone Soup Gardens was a sponsor of this years event, which allowed us to take full advantage of the weekend's offerings, while enjoying a bit of rainy northwest weather at beautiful Fort Flagler State Park.
We arrived on Friday, set up camp, and then went to hear mycologist guru, Paul Stamets, speak about his recent experience helping to solve bee colony collapse disorder. Fascinating work, check out his TED talk HERE, and buy and grow your own mushrooms from his company Fungi Perfecti!
The next morning, Pandora Thomas gave a riveting talk on the importance of promoting cross-cultural dialogue and education around permaculture design within diverse communities. It was an uplifting and invigorating talk, and highlighted that permaculture is more than just designing sustainable living environments, that you must also consider and empower the social, economic, and cultural systems within those communities, in order for the system to thrive.
There were an astounding number of speakers and events throughout Saturday and Sunday, including our very own Patrick Loderhose with a discussion on Greywater Systems, and Jake Harris, who spoke on Actualizing Abundance: Growing a Career in Permaculture. It was a great way for our crew to interact and gain knowledge in order to benefit themselves on their own paths, as well as fueling the greater knowledge base of Stone Soup Gardens.
To round out the weekend, our own Joe Barrett volunteered to be on the NW Permaculture board, along with longtime board member (and our awesome designer), Jacqueline Cramer. Joe will help plan next year's permaculture convergence in Oregon. Way to go, Joe!
If you are interested in learning more about the Northwest Permaculture Convergence, check out the website for a full listing of this year's speakers and events, as well as all of the opportunities available to help out this awesome organization.
Every month Stone Soupers gather together to do something awesome as an educational outreach day. We've visited an earthship, attended a permaculture conference, toured the Bullitt Center, kayaked to pull trash out of the Puget Sound, and most recently, went for a hike on the Gold Creek Trail near Snoqualmie Pass.
It was great to have the whole family there and to be able to share our collective knowledge of native vegetation, fungi, interesting animal facts, and to catch up with each other outside of the usual work day. Here's a look at our family outing.
CHEW ON THIS: Growing Food in a Growing Region
Join us in Pioneer Square for a conversation with a family farmer, an agrihood manager and an edible yard landscaper about growing food, preserving land in small spaces and building community in our fast growing region.
Friday, March 18, 5 --7 PM, at Gridiron
510 Occidental Ave South, First Floor, Seattle (map)
5 PM--Hors d'oeuvres & refreshments served
5:30 PM--Program begins
Maria Anderson, Farm Manager Elk Run Farm in Maple Valley. Elk Run Farm is situated in the middle of a development, this agrihood grows produce for the food banks of South King County.
Branden Born, Associate Professor in Urban Design and Planning at the University of Washington. Born studies how policy decisions and land use effect food systems in our region.
Jake Harris, Founder and President of Stone Soup Gardens in Seattle. Stone Soup Garden is an edible landscaping company specializing in beautiful sustainable gardens, connecting folks to their environment and their food.
Tristan Klesick, Founder and President of Klesick Family Farm in Stanwood. Klesick Family Farm is committed to growing and delivering good food to the families they serve, providing good value to the farmers they support, and sharing good news about the benefits of organic farming with the community.
Moderated by Lindsay Fromme Hanna, Forterra’s Policy Program Manager.
Sometimes it is nice to look back through the year and see how our projects have progressed, not to mention reflecting on all of the positive changes we've made for people in our community, as well as for our regional environment. Several of these projects include raingardens, which help alleviate the water flowing into the sewer, and filter the water before it flows to the sound. They also include permeable surfaces which allow for filtration and provide a comfortable surface to live on during our wet winters.
This house in North Seattle has been a great transformation. Our designer, Jackie Cramer, did a fabulous job on this design. Even with the smaller yard size, we were really able to pack a lot of wonderful features into this smaller garden space.
The raingarden in the front will be full of edible plants, along with the fence line and arbor running across the front side of the house and the patio. The owners will be able to walk along on their newly installed pathway and pick all sorts of things including figs, kiwi, lavender, sage, rosemary, and huckleberry, just to name a few!
We graded the yard and created the small rockery for the rain garden in the front, while also leveling the area behind the fence. We installed a 530 gallon cistern which will capture the roof runoff and flow into the rain garden.
We installed the poured concrete patio and arbor which is a gorgeous place to be on a sunny day. We also put in a small patio in the back, and are completing the project by laying the front with a small grassy area for the kids to play, and finishing up with the final installation of the plants.
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.