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City of Seattle

August 23, 5:27 PM click here to comment > 14

Container gardening at the mayor’s office

There’s no better place in City Hall to eat lunch than the balcony of the mayor’s office, surrounded by strawberry blossoms and ripening tomatoes. Our urban garden is only in its first season, but already we’re producing a grocery bag full of fresh veggies for Northwest Harvest food bank every week. Our cherry tomatoes are doing particularly well.

Volunteers from Lettuce Link and the P-Patch Trust helped us get started with seedlings and planters as part of the Spring into Bed event in early May. With the cool weather in early summer, the garden took off slowly, but by July it was flourishing.

This vegetable garden was already allowed by the city code that regulates where people can grow gardens, but (prior to brand-new legislation) there were still many places in Seattle where growing gardens was not allowed. On August 16th, the Seattle City Council approved urban agriculture legislation crafted by the Department of Planning and Development. This expands the number and types of locations that you can create a garden or have a Farmer’s Market. It also makes it easier to build rooftop greenhouses, makes it possible to sell food that you grow on your property, and increases the number of chickens that you can have on your property from three to eight.

We don’t have any plans for chickens (we’re guessing they’ll be happier in someone’s backyard), but with fall coming we will continue to harvest lettuce and we should see more peppers and tomatoes. When the weather turns cold we’ll transition to winter kale, carrots and swiss chard. The nasturtiums pictured below are edible and a natural pest deterrent. They also attract insects to pollinate the surrounding plants.

If you’d like to start an urban garden of your own, there are lots of resources available at It’s not too late in the season to start a winter vegetable garden. Happy planting!

Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance


Comment from Genevieve Vayda
Time August 23, 2010 at 9:54 pm

This is great! That cavernous City Hall could use more than a little Greening, and this is a great start! Also, wonderful to have educational links to assist and inspire others to garden wherever most suits them.

Comment from Pablo Thomas
Time August 24, 2010 at 11:34 am

As someone who voted for this mayor I am offended by all this focus on stuff that really just shores up the image of Mayor McCheese and does nothing to help the city. Has the mayor ever walked the open air drug market that is third ave? I guess he just wizz’s by it on his bicycle to his house in the sky. The city is fast becoming a joke with rampant crime, homelessness, unemployment, pot holes, traffic but it is all good as long you have an organic garden.

Comment from Violet
Time August 24, 2010 at 11:50 am

Gorgeous. Thanks for putting your ideals into practice, even in a small way. I’m a fan.

Comment from mrbombit
Time August 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Ummmm….can you take the time you spent gardening and maybe try to fix the traffic in the city. Thanks.

Comment from lisa anne murray
Time August 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm

I’m happy to hear that you are supporting NW Harvest! Great cause and great pics.

Comment from Pamela
Time August 24, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Delightful! Great pictures and great story!

Comment from Teresa
Time August 24, 2010 at 2:01 pm

I adore this concept! Beautiful work and a great inspiration for container/urban gardening.

Comment from Claire Acey
Time August 24, 2010 at 2:03 pm

Thanks to Mayor McGinn and his staff for donating the produce to Northwest Harvest! Our clients appreciate the fresh vegetables more than we can describe — and we invite you to our Cherry Street Food Bank to see that firsthand. Thanks to generous support, more than 65% of what we secure for distribution is fruits and vegetables. Good nutrition is key to fighting hunger. Thanks for your support!

Comment from Priscilla Rathbone
Time August 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Great idea! Is that some pretty kale in the middle picture?

Comment from Dana Munson
Time August 24, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Thanks for promoting organic gardens and supporting NW Harvest. And the pictures are amazing!!

Comment from Joyce Zeigen
Time August 24, 2010 at 3:37 pm

At the Cherry Street Food Bank, Northwest Harvest clients enjoy City Hall’s cherry tomatoes and other vegetables, too! We applaud the City of Seattle and the Mayor for promoting container gardening through their excellent example. Lettuce Link and the P-Patch Trust have done an incredible job of teaching others how to garden with workshops, seed giveaways, and Marra Farms. Thank you.

Comment from Jill
Time August 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Great idea! Looks like a fun place to work!

Comment from Josh Fogt
Time August 25, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Thanks to the Mayor and his staff for donating their bounty to Northwest Harvest, what a great example to set! If any other Seattleites have gardens out there with surplus to share, try contacting your local food bank to see if they can help get that food to your neighbors in need. Here is a list of food banks in Seattle from ParentHelp123’s resource finder:

Comment from ForestWander
Time January 3, 2011 at 8:37 am

Container gardening is very convenient for Urban locations.

The plants can yield very good results also.

Sometime container gardening is better than even planting in the ground because fertilizer can be controlled better.

I highly recommend container gardening if you have the time and space.