You need to know about the trees...

 "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." 

- Dr. Seuss

I've walked through the Dakota Homestead property thousands of times over the past 4 years and never cease to be amazed at the beauty, variety and health of the trees. If you haven't walked through there, please do. Take your kids or your dog and walk through as often as possible! There is a map at the end of this post with the location and species of each kind of tree.

At the Dakota Homestead property there are 19 mature trees that have been growing for over 70 years and were planted in the 1940s! We have both evergreen trees (keep their needles year round) and deciduous trees (lose their leaves in the fall). There are 8 different kinds of trees, 6 exceptional trees, 2 trees of a vulnerable species and 1 exceptional grove (11 trees forming a continuous canopy). This property is really exceptional!

The Pacific Madrone is one of the most beautiful trees here in the Northwest, with sienna colored bark that peels away from the trunk revealing light green, smooth bark underneath, and large, glossy, dark green leaves. They grow all along the Pacific coastline but their numbers are declining from habitat destruction. Native Americans ate the berries, but because the berries have a high tannin content and are thus astringent, they more often chewed them or made them into a cider. They also used the berries to make necklaces and other decorations, and as bait for fishing. Bark and leaves were used to treat stomachaches, cramps, skin ailments, and sore throats. The bark was often made into a tea to be drunk for these medicinal purposes. Many mammal and bird species feed off the berries, including American robins, cedar waxwings, band-tailed pigeons, varied thrushes, quail, mule deer, raccoons, ring-tailed cats, and bears. Thank goodness we won't be seeing any bears at the Homestead! 

The two Lebanon Cedar trees are from a vulnerable conservation status - they originally made up a large portion of forests in the Mediterranean and are the national symbol on the flag of Lebanon. You will notice that the needles are very short and dense - the tree adapted to the hot, dry conditions of the mediterranean by conserving energy and water in short, tightly packed needles, and thick bark to get through seasons of drought.

Japanese maples are one of the first food sources for our native mason bees in the early spring. These solitary bees live for one short season, and are the sole pollinators of all fruit trees and berry bushes in the northwest. These little blue bees do not have stingers, don't make honey and are very gentle. Otherwise known as orchard bees, they make their homes in small holes, cracks or bee houses in neighbors yards, laying eggs and packing them in a row of cells surrounded by mud collected from the ground. Honeybees don't start coming out until late spring/early summer after the fruit trees and berry bushes are done blooming. Japanese maples, along with all other maple trees, have early blooms that supply these mason bees with pollen to give them energy to pollinate the surrounding fruit trees, and to leave with each baby bee to nourish them as they grow over the next winter.

Buds, flowers, seeds and even the bark of maple trees are food for moth caterpillars, aphids, leafhoppers and beetle larvae. Woodpeckers and other birds feed on these insects, which furnish protein and fat for adult reproduction and young nestlings. Songbirds eat the seeds and buds. These two Japanese maple trees at the Dakota Homestead may be smaller than the rest of the towering pines and cedars, but they play an equally important role in the local ecosystem!

Did you know that at higher elevations the bark of the Ponderosa pine smells like butterscotch and looks like puzzle pieces? It's true! I spent a summer working in the mountains of southern Colorado surrounded by Ponderosa pines and Aspen trees, and on sunny days the warmth of the sun made the whole forest smell like butterscotch, warm cedar and cool breeze. It was magical!

The extra long needles create a perfect mulch for groundcover like strawberries (which we will plant hundreds of at the Dakota Homestead). They have also been used to stuff outdoor pillows and mattresses with in days long gone.

Last, but certainly not least, is the granddaddy of them all - the gorgeous double blooming Ornamental Cherry tree at the corner of the property stretching out towards the elementary school. This tree is one of the most beautiful trees you'll ever see when it blooms in the spring. You can feel the buzz from bees when the tree is in full bloom, it practically vibrates the ground in front of it! This cherry tree spends all it's energy creating blooms that completely cover the canopy each spring and is so fantastic it has become the symbol of our fight to save this land and create a welcoming gathering place for the community!

Friends, please spend a few minutes walking through the Dakota Homestead property - picture what it will look like after we all come together, raise the funds and create this place for us all! Imagine sitting on a bench under the full blooming canopy of the cherry tree, teaching your kids and grandkids about the history of the Lebanon cedar, looking for blue bees early each spring on the early blooms of the Japanese maple and knowing you protected the gorgeous Madrona tree and it's 18 closest companion trees.

Here is a map of the trees on the property to aid your self-guided tour. Enjoy! Send us pictures of what you love!

Exciting events happening at the Dakota Homestead!

A Message from the Board

This newsletter is going out to over 700 people! Each of you chose to write your name and email down on a clipboard at one of our booths, or visited the website and signed up to receive our news, or talked with us and decided to get involved. You are here because you want this Dakota Homestead project to become a reality.

You want to see this small piece of land become more than just a couple of new houses. To see it become a cornerstone of our community that adds valuegrows relationships and grows food. You want to walk through the fruit orchard when cherries, peaches, apples and pears are growing. You want to bring your children or grandchildren to show them how blueberries grow on a bush, or snack on some fresh snap peas and watch their faces light up. You want to be inspired to turn part of your yard, your patio, or your windowsill into a garden that will grow food and herbs and you need to see, smell, touch and taste what is possible. Maybe you just want to prove that the power of people coming together to accomplish something positive for their fellow neighbors still happens in this unsteady time. We each want to look back years from now and know that we made a difference in our community and in the lives of our fellow humans - and this is one way we can make a big impact.

This is more than raising money to purchase a piece of land. It's raising money to provide a place for us all - for wonder, knowledge, inspiration, connection, peace and food to grow. For years and years to come.

Thank you for joining this journey, actively getting involved, donating money and time to making the Dakota Homestead a reality. This is our year to get it done!

Phoebe, Kristen and Katie

We are officially a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization!

After 9 months of waiting, the IRS has granted us tax-exempt status! This is a huge milestone for our organization and allows 100% of every donation to go directly to Urban Homestead Foundation. All donations to Urban Homestead Foundation are tax-deductible. A huge thank you to Admiral Neighborhood Association for their fiscal sponsorship support over the last year and their continued partnership.

Online Giving Campaign! Help Us Establish the Dakota Homestead!
Our goal is to raise $35,000 in 30 days. If everyone on this list made a donation of $25 to $250 we'd easily reach this goal. Let's raise the money together! Major donors and foundations are more likely to match the funds raised by the people who are directly impacted by the purchase of this property. In order to unlock some important grant money, we need to show the enthusiasm of the neighborhood and concerned citizens. We’ve launched an online giving campaign this week and we need your help to spread the word. Every gift counts – please give today and share the campaign with your friends and family, near and far! We can do this together.

Grant updates: We have applied for 3 grants and are waiting to hear back on nearly $400,000 in funds. Keep your fingers crossed. And let us know if you have leads on a company or foundation grant that we can apply for. Right now we’re particularly interested in connecting with anyone who works at Nucor Steel – if you know of anyone (or you’re that someone!), please be in touch.

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Join us for a cup of coffee:

Over the next month we’ll be serving coffee at the Dakota Homestead site. Join us on Tuesday, March 7th, Friday, March 17th or Thursday, March 23rd from 7:30-8:15. We’re so thankful to Admiral Bird and C&P Coffee for their donations and look forward to featuring more local coffee shops for future Coffee Cart dates!

Dakota Homestead Block Party

We had a successful (and not too cold and rainy) block party this past weekend. Nearly 50 people showed up to talk about the potential of this vacant lot and the energy was palpable. We’ll plan on hosting another gathering at the site after the weather warms up, and we hope to see many more of you there. Special thanks to The Beer Junction for the beer!

One artist's imagination of what the Dakota Homestead might look like. Could you imagine yourself using this? What would you suggest? Visit the website to add your thoughts to the feedback survey

Thank you for supporting this community project!

Copyright © 2017 Urban Homestead Foundation, All rights reserved. 
Thank you for signing up for our newsletter, either through our website or in person at an event! We look forward to keeping you connected with the Urban Homestead Foundation! 

Our mailing address is: 
Urban Homestead Foundation: PO Box 16424, Seattle, WA 98116

West Seattle Blog: Urban Homestead Foundation building momentum; three events ahead

Originally published on February 28, 2017

Major milestone for the Urban Homestead Foundation, community volunteers pursuing a dream for the former City Light substation on Genesee Hill. And you have three chances in the next eight days to stop by, find out more, and have fun, starting tomorrow morning.

First, the milestone: Katie Stemp from the UHF says the organization has finally been granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status “after a year of working on the application and waiting to hear from the IRS! Now we are qualified to apply for several more grants than before! It’s a big step and we are very excited!”

Now, the backstory, since we haven’t mentioned the UHF in a while (here’s what we wrote about it last year) – it’s a community effort that first needs to raise money to buy the vacant city-owned land across from Genesee Hill Elementary, a former Seattle City Light substation, to turn it “into a valuable community asset for West Seattle and beyond.”

Next, the events

Tomorrow (Wednesday) morning and March 7th, you’ll see a coffee cart at the site, where you’re invited to enjoy a cup of coffee (donated by Admiral Bird tomorrow, C & P Coffee Company [WSB sponsor] on March 7th) and find out more about getting involved with the project, including “a sneak peek at the future and hopeful home of the Dakota Homestead – a place for the community to gather, learn, play and grow together!” Look for the canopy at the corner of SW Dakota and 50th SW. Coffee’s free; donations will be accepted.

And next Sunday – March 5th – the Urban Homestead Foundation is hosting a Block Party on SW Dakota between 49th and 50th SW, 2-3:30 pm, “bringing neighbors together to celebrate the potential of what this vacant piece of land could be for our community. All are welcome! We’ve gotten a street permit along Dakota and we’re working on getting donated food and beer.”

Aside from events, the UHF team is working not only to seek grants but also to “connect with people from the area who are interested in helping fund or connect funders to the project, who are excited about positively impacting thousands of students through workshops that teach life skills (kitchen skills, growing food, finance, etiquette, etc.) and the opportunity to create a model, organic food garden for the community that all can enjoy. When we, as a community of invested adults, are able to influence youth in a positive way that builds self-confidence and resiliency, it changes the path their lives take and impacts the people they come into contact with. The ripple effect of helping youth is exponential and we want to bring that positive guidance into their lives.”

If you can’t make it to any of the events, connect with the UHF via its website.

Red Tricycle: Up, Up & Away: Meet 13 Power Moms Who Call Seattle Home

Originally published November 10, 2016

Author: Allison Sutcliffe

It may have been Stan Lee who penned, “with great power comes great responsibility,” but moms live this truth daily. Whether it’s heading a start up, running errands or coaching our sidekick’s weekend soccer game (or all of the above!), moms really do do it all. Flip through to meet 13 Seattle moms who prove you don’t need to wear a cape to have super powers.

Katie Stemp, Founder Seattle Farm School & Urban Homestead Foundation
When Katie Stemp, Founder of the Seattle Farm School and the Urban Homestead Foundation started training for the Rock & Roll half marathon back in 2014, she had no idea where it, and a few jams from Macklemore, would lead her. She had just had he second child and was struggling to find her “purpose outside of being a mom.” All her thoughts blended together to produce the Seattle Farm School that opened Oct. 2014. At the school students of all ages take classes that teach them skills to knit, garden, can jam, make goats milk soap, and even plan for an emergency with confidence. About a year later, through her connections in the homesteading community, Katie’s second venture was born, the non-profit Urban Homestead Foundation. Its goal is to create “a community gathering space based on urban agriculture.” And its plan includes food-producing, trees and bushes; mason bees and bat houses to help with pollination; and picnic benches and tables where the community can come together. Count us in!

It’s no surprise this West Seattle mom to three, Bella (7), Jonny (4) and baby Alice (due October 6), loves spending time with her family at the beach collecting rocks, building sandcastles and chasing crabs in her spare time. When it comes to work, Katie recognizes family, friends and some pretty cool tech tools she can lean on when she needs to. Her husband and kids definitely top the list, thanks to their willingness to help mom run errands, from one end of town to the next so she can get things done.

Power Mom Pearl: “I’ve…learned to give myself grace when I don’t get things done as quickly as I wish I could. There’s always more to do than time to do it….Every day is challenging, full and so rewarding.”

photo: Megan Byma


West Seattle Blog: The Dakota Homestead Project

West Seattle Blog: The Dakota Homestead Project

We sat down recently with UHF president Katie Stemp, under the shady trees out front of the site she and other volunteers hope to transform.

Here’s where they’re at:

“We’re at the very beginning of our public-outreach phase – it has taken 6 to 8 months to get the foundation started and all the paperwork filed … we can now position ourselves to start fundraising and educating the community.” That means plans for events and fundraisers and contacting potential donors, “what companies and family foundations are in the area that would have the interest and funding … to boost our culture here.”