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Burien Garden Grows Both Vegetables and Relationships

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July 24, 2018

The New Start Community Garden serving Burien is more than just a place to grow plants, fruits, and vegetables. It's also a way for community members to connect with each other, said John Feeney, resident and president of the New Start Community Garden.

“One woman had been gardening for six weeks (in the New Start Garden) and lived in the neighborhood 16 years. In those six weeks she had met more neighbors than in the 16 years she’d lived in the neighborhood,” Feeney said.

New Start Community Garden serves both the community of Burien as well as the students of the school. Having the garden on campus provides an opportunity for students to get both high school and college credit for working in the garden. “For some kids, college is not in their vocabulary; it opens their eyes as to what opportunities are available,” he said. 

When the Port of Seattle announced the Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Small Matching Grants Fund in 2017, Feeney decided to apply.

Feeney said the garden relies entirely on donations for materials and plants. Applying for the ACE Fund was a good opportunity to buy new materials for the garden while relieving volunteers of the need to provide their own materials and supplies. The garden was one of 11 recipients of grant funding in the fall of 2017.

The Small Matching Grants Program offers community members of SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines the chance to apply for up to $10,000 of Port funding to improve their local environment.

Community organizations, chambers of commerce, service organizations, youth or athletic associations, or other associations located in or providing services in the cities of SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines can apply for funding.

One-third of the garden (called the Shark Garden) is set aside for high school students to work in, and the other two-thirds is a community garden. From this garden, New Start donated over 1,300 pounds of food to the White Center Food Bank last summer.

Feeney said people come to the garden on common ground.

People can just come in here and grow.

“They can learn from each other; they can talk about gardening,” Feeney said. “It’s a great way for the community to come together and learn, and get to know each other in a more social environment.”

Feeney said the garden serves as a community resource.

“I think it’s just something that we need in our society today that’s missing,” Feeney said. “People can just come and loosen up, leave their problems at home, and just come in here and grow.”

To volunteer with New Start, email ecologyfund@portseattle.org.

Applications for Small Matching Grants are now open through September 24. Download the application.

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