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The Pig Roast Fundraiser event on September 16th, taken by Principal Kischner from the 3rd floor of Genesee Hill Elementary School.

The Urban Homestead Foundation has generated overwhelming community support for the purchase of the Dakota Homestead land. Our base of support continues to grow as we reach out to the community through events and media, and we gain further support from our local leaders who wish to see this kind of community outreach - a ‘modern barnraising’ -  succeed. People are inspired to get involved as soon as they hear what we have planned and are asked to participate in the vision of what this space could be.

Since establishing the Urban Homestead Foundation as a nonprofit less than two years ago, we have grown to a nine member Board of Directors, brought in over 25 active volunteers and more than 200 individual supporters, while establishing partnerships with numerous local environmental groups and a Community Partnership agreement with Genesee Hill Elementary across the street. Our volunteers have written grants, hosted house parties, worked festival booths, met with local officials, started letter writing campaigns, canvassed the neighborhood, and planned fundraisers.


Our largest fundraiser this fall, a Pig Roast Fundraiser Dinner with a live band on the property, was a huge success in bringing neighbors together. With over 100 people from the community in attendance, and more from the neighborhood walking by to donate money when they found out what we’re doing, we witnessed the possibility of creating an urban hub where residents can gather in green space. This one fundraiser raised almost $10,000 through ticket sales, raffle tickets, donations and drink purchases. It was a blast! 

The developing relationships between neighbors is inspiring – there were many stories from the pig roast dinner of neighbors who had not yet been introduced, some living only a block away. Thank you to our community sponsors that made this event possible with donations of food, money and raffle items, thank you to Board member Becca Bay and her team of volunteers for months of planning, coordination and execution, to Josh Schramm and Westerly for amazing music and the pig crew of Nicole Ott, The Swinery and Genesee Hill PTA President Christine Kraynek and family for roasting the pig! Thank you to Kristen and Slade Bedford for the awesome cornhole boards that were raffled off, and to Christie Kinskey for the professional pictures. The biggest thank you to the community for coming together, supporting this project, showing up and making it a great event!

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The partnerships we are building and plan to build are numerous. From the already mentioned Genesee Hill Elementary School, to other local schools in the area, and resources like Seattle Farm School, Seattle Tilth, AlleyCat Acres, the Beacon Hill Food Forest and Bradner Gardens. In addition, we are actively establishing relationships with local farms and farmers, small businesses and restaurants who want to be a part of a movement of individuals and families interested in urban gardening, environmental education, and sustainable food systems. 

This kind of community growth and strengthening can continue....but only if the land is saved in time. There are developers waiting at the door for us to fail and turn it into more housing. We have until the end of this year to raise the remaining funds needed to save the land forever. We've already cut the purchase price in half thanks to a matching grant that will match $325,000 and we have raised over $30,000 of individual donations from generous people like you.

We need $300,000 to save it. Now is the time to activate - ask your philanthropic friends, coworkers, your rich aunt, corporate community donation funders, dig into your own's do or die time folks. Once lost, it can never be recovered. Save this land for yourself and your community this year!


As West Seattle experiences exponential residential growth, the purchase of the Dakota land mitigates this rapid density by preserving a piece of green space and creating an active community hub for children and adults. Beyond the environmental and educational benefits of preserving this open space across from Genesee Hill Elementary, this land acquisition allows residents to engage with each other in the development of something unique to Seattle. The question of what the land should be used for, from serving local food banks to partnering with social justice organizations and developing food sustainability curriculum, is an opportunity to come together in community conversations and develop an actionable plan that preserves the best and highest purpose of this space.

The fact that the land sits directly across from Genesee Hill Elementary, the largest elementary school in Seattle, is an asset. The students and staff will immediately gain the ability to develop a ‘living laboratory’ for student groups and adults to experiment with edible gardening and nature-based art, science and math. The preservation of this land connects the school to the neighborhood and the neighborhood to an active green space and experience which educates and inspires.

It’s rare that a community has the chance to deliberately invest in its own future. The Dakota Homestead presents an opportunity for people of all ages - kids, adults, and seniors - to have a spot right in their neighborhood to gather and be exposed to knowledge lost to the generations, about nature, about food, and about working together to make a better tomorrow. Preserving this land from development will reverberate through our community for generations to come.

Urban Homestead Foundation in search of a few heroes to help save green space in West Seattle


From left, Katie Stemp, Phoebe Ingraham and Kristen Bedford, from the nonprofit Urban Homestead Foundation, are asking the community to support their effort to save a piece of land on the corner of 50 Ave SW and SW Dakota and transform it into a neighborhood green space and demonstration garden. 

Lindsay Peyton

Mon, 10/02/2017

By Lindsay Peyton

An overgrown lot located on the corner of 50 Ave SW and SW Dakota St has become the center of a big vision for a few dedicated West Seattle residents. 

To most, the property would be easy to pass by. The decommissioned Seattle City Light substation stands vacant, adorned only with a chained up gravel pad, where electric equipment once stood. 

Katie Stemp, however, recognizes the site as an urban forest grove, complete with Scots pine, Pacific madrone, Ponderosa pine, Japanese maple and Lebanon cedar. 

She wants to save the trees – and turn the plot into a green space, complete with demonstration gardens, greenhouse, fruit orchard, workshop space, park benches and an outdoor cob oven. 

“We would have a covered structure where we can host classes, tons of raised beds in front, dwarf fruit trees and a container garden,” Stemp said. “We could show a lot of ways that people could grow food in their own space at home.”

She first discovered the 10,000 sq. ft. lot about two years ago, when it came up for sale by the City of Seattle. 

The Seattle City Council agreed to allow an extension of the sale date for a community organization, if the group could raise the funding needed.  

Stemp joined forces with Kristen Bedford and Phoebe Ingraham to create a nonprofit to meet the city’s requirements. 

They formed the Urban Homestead Foundation – and the city granted them until the end of 2017 to purchase the site, which was recently appraised at $650,000. 

The women named the project the “Dakota Homestead Site.”

Ingraham said their plan includes partnering with other educational organizations, as well as groupd those promoting sustainability and the environment. The lot could become a home for a rain garden or solar power demonstration site. 

“People can take classes, learn it here and bring it back to their own space,” she said. 

With an elementary school across the street, Bedford believes the garden would become a destination for field trips. 

“We would really integrate science, nature and art,” she said. “That’s what we need to teach kids -- the innovation and creativity from nature-based education. This is our opportunity – but that window is closing.”

She explained that there aren’t a lot of grants out there for the acquisition of land – and the Urban Homestead Foundation is consumed with fundraising. 

Stemp said the nonprofit has acquired a matching grant of half of the amount needed – but they have a long ways to go to reach that milestone. 

“What we really need are corporate sponsors,” she said. “And we need it by the end of the year, or else this goes back on the market and developers will jump on it. It’s Hail Mary time.”

So far, the nonprofit has raised $30,000 from individual donors. 

“We’re looking for a champion,” Ingraham said. 

She hopes to not only finish the fundraising effort and build the garden but to set a precedent for other communities that want to preserve green space in their neighborhoods.

“Our vision is that this could be a replicable model of the community coming together to save something,” she said. “But right now, we just need this to happen. We need to save this piece of land.”

Bedford said that individuals can also help by voicing their support to the city council. 

“People who are passionate about this, their voices are important,” she said. “We need to hear from them.”

To learn more about how to become involved in this project or to donate online, visit .

SAVING THE SUBSTATION: Urban Homestead Foundation benefit dinner Saturday

Post courtesy of West Seattle Blog.


The Urban Homestead Foundation, raising money to buy the former City Light substation property on Genesee Hill, is sending out a last call for tickets to this Saturday’s pig-roast fundraising dinner. UHF’s Katie Stemp says it’s happening at the site, 50th/Dakota, 5-9 pm Saturday (September 16th): “Tickets are $75 and include a sit-down dinner, a drink, live music and dancing, and outdoor games! It’s going to be a blast and hopefully raise a lot of money to match the King Conservation Futures Fund grant we received! If there are local businesses that would like to be promoted by helping sponsor part of the event, they can contact Becca Bay at” (We reported on the grant back in June.) You can buy your ticket(s) online right now – if you can’t commit until the last minute, Katie says they expect “a limited amount” available at the event.

VIDEO: Urban Homestead Foundation celebrates big grant in campaign to transform ex-substation

Courtesy of West Seattle Blog post

(WSB video: Urban Homestead Foundation VP Kristen Corning Bedford announcing grant news)

Leaders and supporters of the Urban Homestead Foundation‘s vision for the ex-substation on Genesee Hill had big news to celebrate today. As you can hear in our video clip above, they’ve been recommended to receive a King County Conservation Futures $281,000 matching-fund grant that would get them to half of what they need to buy the land and transform it into a community learning and gathering place and urban-agriculture demonstration zone.

The grant recommendation was announced during a block-party potluck at the site. They’re also celebrating gifts of all sizes – earlier in the day, Girl Scout Troop 44428 stopped by with a $350 donation:

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(Photo courtesy UHF president Katie Stemp)

While the grant recommendation is big news, the group is racing the clock, as they were given until the end of this year to raise the money they need before City Light sells the site on the open market; the utility is in the process of getting a new appraisal (the previous one put the site’s value at $530,000). Later this summer, UHF plans a Farm Dinner fundraiser at the site, 5 pm August 13th – more details to come but you can save the date now.

BACKSTORY: The site at 50th and Dakota, just north of Genesee Hill Elementary, is one of the six former substations in West Seattle that Seattle City Light declared were no longer needed, putting into motion a process to sell or otherwise dispose of them. Three of them – on Pigeon Point, in south Highland Park, and in Fauntleroy – have been or are being sold for housing; one in north Highland Park is proposed for mixed-use rezoning at the community’s request; and then there’s the one becoming the Delridge Wetlands Project. The UHF plan is described in detail in the application for the just-announced grant.

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.”