Creating Our Pea Patch
June, 2009: The MCA was awarded a grant for $10,000 from King County Partnerships and Grants. First steps: cleared blackberries, removed debris from the site, pulled stumps, leveled and rototilled the ground, installed a French drain, and harvested a lot of rocks!
2010: Built raised beds, installed deer and rodent fencing, filled plots with Cedar Grove Vegetable Garden Mix, installed a drip irrigation system, and held a plant sale to raise money for a shed.
2011: 22 families growing food, gardeners donated over 180 pounds of vegetables to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission
2015: 4 beds devoted to growing organic vegetables for the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank. 520 lbs donated!
For more see Photo-history of Mirrormont Pea Patch.
How Mirrormont Pea Patch Came to Be
by Linda Shepherd
For years, I felt like a failure as a farmer. But I refused to cut down trees to grow peas. To make matters worse, the deer, rabbits and slugs ate the few wimpy veggies I managed to grow. Yet, with the downturn in the economy in 2008, it seemed ever more important to find a way to grow my own food. So I set off with a mission to create a community garden in Mirrormont.
Foodies, locavores and gardeners joined with me in January 2009, lured by visions of growing juicy heirloom tomatoes, lush rainbow chard, and iridescent blue potatoes.
The first challenge was to find land with sun in this forested community. In order to promote community and better steward their land, the Mirrormont Country Club generously agreed to lease 6800 square feet of sunny land behind the tennis courts, adjacent to Mirrormont Park.
The next big challenge was funding. I took a grant-writing course and a diligent search yielded a $10,000 matching grant from King County’s Community Partnerships and Grants (CPG) Program, a public/private partnership initiative that empowers user groups to construct and maintain public recreation facilities. Mirrormont Community Association’s successful track record with the CPG-funded Mirrormont Park made us the eligible for a small grant for the community garden.
Then the hard work of “sweat equity” began. At the end of the first work party, one volunteer almost walked away. We’d barely made a dent in the thorny tangle of blackberries. “It’s never going to happen,” she moaned. “There are too many brambles, too much to do.”
Despite hopes of planting those juicy heirloom tomatoes in 2009, it took a year and a half for volunteers to clear invasive Himalayan blackberries, pull out stumps, put in a French drain, level the land, build raised beds, install a deer fence and a drip-irrigation system, construct compost bins, and build a shed.
To meet the obligation of the matching grant, volunteers worked over 2340 hours (worth $35,100), and professionals donated 43 hours (worth $6450). In addition, local sponsors donated $9172-worth of in-kind donations. Generous neighbors donated chairs, picnic tables, and tools. All in all, volunteer efforts and donations matched over five times the amount of the grant, which demonstrates that the King County’s partnership-grant strategy effectively stretches the buying-power of taxpayer money. Mirrormont Pea Patch provides a model for citizen-led volunteer groups creating community gardens.
During the summer of 2011, it warmed my heart to see 22 families growing food, building community, and gathering for bimonthly potlucks. Gardeners donated over 180 pounds of vegetables to Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission. With Meg Wade’s guidance, Junior Gardeners learned about planting, tending, and harvesting snow peas, strawberries, lettuce, carrots, beets, broccoli, and pumpkins, and sunflowers, and made the ScaryGirls, scarecrows with skirts.
Besides producing food, Mirrormont Pea Patch has been wonderful for building community. Neighbors stop by on walks and admire the gardeners’ creatively designed plots and to see what’s growing. One neighbor said she was so inspired that she built four raised beds at her home. Everyone says they’ve met more people through the Pea Patch in the first year than they did in the past 2 to 30 years of living in Mirrormont. The Issaquah Press published an article on August 31, 2011, “Gardeners grow community spirit in pea patches,” which featured Mirrormont Pea Patch:
Mirrormont Pea Patch provides a model for citizen-led volunteer groups creating community gardens.
Here's how we did it:
Mirrormont Country Club generously leased the land to the MCA
$10,000 from King County Partnerships and Grants
$9172 in-kind donations
2340 Volunteer hours ($35,100)
43 Pro hours donated ($6450)
Blackberry clearing and stump removal: Linda Shepherd French drain: Chas Wade Junior Gardener’s Garden: Meg Wade Sheet mulching: Terry Garrido Raised beds: Betsy Dahlstrom & Kevin Mashek Deer & rodent fencing: Joe Lapping Cedar Grove Compost: Diane Mashek Irrigation: Peggy Moe and Linda Shepherd Shed: Renée & Joe Kristof Compost Bins: Chris Homanics and Meg Wade Food Bank Coordinator: Kevin Mashek Education Coordinators: Carol, Bill & Chris Homanics
Also explore FAQs, Garden Rules, Resources for Vegetable Gardening, and our Photo-History.
Stop by and visit our community garden! Everyone is welcome!
For significantly stretching our grant dollars to create the Pea Patch, we are incredibly grateful to the following sponsors for their generosity.
Issaquah Cedar & Lumber
Provided free delivery and a 20% discount on lumber for raised beds. We recommend their helpful and knowledgeable staff for your next woodworking project. 5728 East Lake Sammamish Parkway; 425-392-3631
Cedar Grove Compost
Donated 60 cubic yards of Vegetable Garden Mix. Cedar Grove has diverted 4 million tons of organic material from landfills and has many excellent products for increasing the tilth of your soil and producing lush plants.
Provided a 30% discount on a drip irrigation system. Their expert staff will work with you to design a complete system to meet your needs.
Talented geotechnical engineer from GEO Group Northwest Inc who designed our French drain.
Mirrormont resident and owner of U.S. Diversified Services, Inc. donated time and expert use of his backhoe to remove stumps from the plot, for about what it would have cost to rent the equipment. He also donated time toward the French drain and putting in the access road. He’s a full-service general contractor, and a wonderful resource for remodeling, additions, decks, patios, preventive maintenance and repairs. Call (206) 295-3787 for a free estimate.
Donated 2100 burlap bags used for sheet-mulching.
JB Tree Service
Donated time to chip huge piles of debris that Pea Patch volunteers hauled out of the plot. 800-840-2733
Eastside Tree Works
Donated wood chips for sheet mulching. 206-396-9998
Matt’s Tree Service
Donated wood chips for sheet mulching. 425-369-8733
Donated a picnic table and chairs
Heidi & Larry Paradis
Donated a second picnic table.
Donated foundation towers, pavers and shingles for the shed.