The Dakota Homestead Project
The Urban Homestead Foundation was created by a group of Seattleites wanting to save and improve an important green space in our community and create a fun and inspiring neighborhood gathering place with urban agriculture demonstration gardens for Seattle.
Our goal is to purchase the decommissioned Seattle City Light substation property in West Seattle on the corner of Dakota and 50th Ave SW. The property is across the street from the new Genesee Hill Elementary School - the largest elementary in Seattle with over 700 students! Seattle City Light and the Seattle City Council have given us until the end of 2017 to raise the funds to purchase the Dakota substation, currently valued at $530,000.
The Dakota Property contributes to a functioning wildlife habitat system of common and non-native species in an urban environment. The 19 mature trees on the property were planted in the mid 1940s and were evaluated and inventoried by Consulting Arborist and Horticulturist Kyle Henegar in April, 2016. These trees will be cared for and maintained under Urban Homestead Foundation ownership. The property includes 6 exceptional trees (Lodgepole Pines and 1 Pacific Madrone, plus an Ornamental Cherry that is 1 inch shy of exceptional); 11 trees that create an Exceptional Grove (Scots pine, Ponderosa pine, Lodgepole pine, Japanese maple, Pacific madrone, Lebanon cedar); 2 trees of a vulnerable species (Lebanon Cedar); and 3 additional European white birch trees.
We will add an understory of hundreds of food producing plants including fruit trees, berry bushes, groundcover, herbs, flowers and more that will be open to the public for harvesting, and be a source of inspiration and education for the community in how to organically and beautifully produce food in an urban environment.
Immediate Benefits to the Community once purchased:
- Active green space buffer between the neighborhood and the 3 story, 700+ student elementary school across the street.
- Gathering place for friends, families, neighbors and community groups. A covered shelter, picnic tables and benches will be installed to encourage community engagement and gathering.
- Events and activities open to the public all year such as: summer movie & pizza nights, seasonal festivals, and farm-to-table dinner events.
- Emergency Hub for the neighborhood in conjunction with West Seattle Be Prepared and Seattle Neighborhoods Actively Prepare. Disaster preparedness workshops hosted by Seattle Farm School.
- Local food hub: drop off site for Farm CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture), a weekly or bi-weekly subscription delivery of the freshest locally grown produce.
- Preservation of 20 mature trees on property (3 types of pine, Lebanon cedar, Madrona, Japanese maple, Cherry and Birch – 6 of which meet exceptional status)
- Additional 100+ dwarf fruit trees, fruit bushes, edible groundcover, herbs and pollinator-friendly perennials will be planted in the demonstration urban food forest landscape, based on permaculture methodology.
- Annual garden beds for kids planting programs.
- Pollinator support: build homes for mason bees (non-stinging) and bat houses to teach the importance of pollinators and their role in the food system. Plant pollinator pathways of perennial flowers and herbs throughout the gardens to support the pollinator ecosystem.
- Install a rain garden that helps filter runoff water before it enters Puget Sound.
- Educational programs for all ages focused on environmental stewardship and awareness, locally grown food and healthy urban agriculture ecosystems.
- “Living Laboratory” for local schools and student groups (homeschool, scouts, etc.) to use as curriculum enrichment.
- Passive learning through informational plaques that will be installed throughout the property to explain the environmental, economical and energy efficient benefits of each feature.
- All ages community workshops hosted by Seattle Farm School featuring urban homesteading skills such as cooking, food preservation, crafts, gardening, alternative energy, emergency preparedness and more.
- Seed starting and seed saving workshops in conjunction with the King County Seed Lending Library.
As we progress through the first few years we will be gathering feedback from the community on how this space could best be used. Some of the possibilities generated so far include:
- Green built classroom/workshop on part of the existing cement pad including: metal roof with water catchment system, solar panels, and a wind turbine.
- Permanent and expanded location for the West Seattle Seed Lending Library location.
- Greenhouse with plant sales that benefit educational programs.
- Provide K-12 STEM based learning including: age-appropriate modern day home economics curriculum, environmental education & stewardship, edible food gardening, cooking, and preservation, home finances, safety & first aid skills, emergency preparedness, and nature based art, science and math. Our goal is to eventually serve 10,000 students per school year.