Volunteering at P-Patches Marks Earth Day Efforts

By United Way of King County, on May 3, 2022 | In Emerging Leaders 365, Events, Volunteering

This blog post was written by Taylor Roberson, United Way of King County Marketing Program Manager

On Earth Day weekend, volunteers ranging from high school students to young professionals, neighbors, parents and toddlers gathered across three local P-Patches —AKA the Seattle Community Gardens, a 33-acre network comprising 89 gardens citywide.

 In cool 61-degree weather with a steady glimpse of sunshine, people as young as four-years old gloved up and went to work. There were folks laying mulch, pulling weeds, and planting seeds that would ultimately support those experiencing food insecurities in Seattle. 

Mary Dusek, Emerging Leader/365 Committee member, and United Way of King County President/CEO Gordon McHenry, Jr.

Each year, P-Patches provide thousands of fresh, organic produce for Seattle food banks and nutrition programs. In 2021 alone, 41,882 pounds were donated to neighbors feeling the insurmountable pressure from the COVID-19 pandemic, which decreased access to healthy and nutritious food alternatives.

Before COVID-19, Black, Indigenous, Latino, and other communities of color faced disproportionate levels of poverty and food insecurity due to historic and systemic racism. The pandemic only exacerbated those inequities, with one in three Washington households seeking food assistance. To address the disproportionate impact on communities of color, the United Way is partnering with communities to provide more culturally appropriate food deliveries and direct service.

Earth Day volunteering is a result of strong partnerships and coincides with the values of our Emerging Leaders 365 members. These are young professionals who donate $365 a year, or $1 a day, and actively lead volunteer, service and networking activities with United Way. Three Emerging Leaders members led each project during Earth Day weekend in partnership with YP Communities, a young professional network.

“I’m so glad you invited me out. This is a great way to give back,” said Maurice Roper, a community volunteer. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work, but it is so rewarding.”

At Hillman Garden P-Patch, where an old willow’s branches extend nearly 6 feet toward the ground, volunteers prepared a communal space for people to continue to connect safely during the pandemic. They focused on clearing weeds and laying mulch. Others cleaned walkways and planted blueberries and strawberries to address food insecurities in the region.

Maurice Roper, a community volunteer

In all, 23 volunteers signed up for this experience, and nearly 30 lent a hand at Hillman Garden P-Patch, another 25 could be found at Horiuchi P-Patch in Central Seattle, and 25 more in North Seattle at Jackson P-Patch. Jackson P-Patch volunteers prepared the children’s pumpkin patch and garden for a bountiful season of produce and early education. A total of 80 volunteers showed up and showed out for their neighbors this past weekend!

Volunteering in community gardens works toward breaking the cycle of poverty by tackling food insecurity in King County. Efforts support the United Way’s mission to build racially just communities where people have homes, students graduate and families are financially stable. Our work in the community would not be possible without your generous support. Thank You!


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