Media

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

1001_urban_homestead_foundation.jpg

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 www.urbanhomesteadfoundation.org .

SAVING THE SUBSTATION: Urban Homestead Foundation benefit dinner Saturday

Post courtesy of West Seattle Blog.

cherry-tree.jpg

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 beccabayaway@gmail.com.” (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:

girl scout troop.jpeg


(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.

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.”