About Marra Farm
Marra Farm is a model urban community farm engaging people in sustainable agriculture and education while enhancing local food security. Tucked into the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, it has 4 acres of historic preserved farmland.
Marra Farm generates tons of fresh, organic produce each year. In 2010, more than 1,800 volunteers contributed over 7,200 hours to help us grow more than 22,000 pounds at Marra Farm! In addition to South Park residents growing food for their own families, the food grown at Marra Farm goes to local residents and the senior lunch program through the Providence Regina House Food Bank, Mien senior citizens, and Concord Elementary School students and their families. Also, through a Seattle Parks and Green Spaces Levy, the adjacent property was transformed into the Marra-Desimone Park in 2009.
Children’s GardenLettuce Link maintains a Children’s Garden at Marra Farm where since the year 2000, we have facilitated a series of gardening and nutrition programs for children in South Park. The children walk to the farm, garden in their own plots, taste and cook fresh vegetables, and learn about their environment through scientific exploration and outdoor-themed games. At the end of the class series, children take home their harvests to share with their families.
The Children’s Gardening and Nutrition program connects students to their food, encourages them to try new recipes, and cultivates healthy eating habits. Moreover, students gain self-confidence and pride by working together to grow their own food and reap the harvest.
We also offer 1- to 2-hour experiential and educational field trips for local schools. We gratefully accept a sliding-scale donation for all field trips. For more info or to schedule a tour, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out these videos about Marra Farm...
In 2011, the Rainbow class from Sea Mar's Child Development Center took weekly field trips to Marra Farm. (Marra Farm from Mapping Voices, produced on Vimeo by teacher Amy Halter.)
The Marra Family, Italian truck farmers, worked this land from the early 1900s until the 1970s when they sold it to King County. It is one of the last two remaining pieces of original agricultural land in Seattle. In 1997, a handful of neighborhood residents launched the earliest restoration efforts at the Farm with support from a VISTA volunteer. The following year, a diverse group of nonprofit organizations, government programs and individuals joined together to care for this valuable agricultural space. In 2000, community organizer John Beal and the King Conservation District daylighted a section of the Lost Fork of Hamm Creek on the western edge of Marra Farm. Working as the Marra Farm Coalition, a group of organizations and individuals (listed below) continues to build and expand Marra Farm's role addressing community food security needs, providing a space for sustainable agriculture education, and engaging community members.
Community Served & Needs Addressed
- Poverty: South Park is an area of high poverty, with very few affordable fresh produce sources. About 12.5% of South Park households live below the poverty line, and 85% of children at South Park's Concord Elementary School qualify for the free or reduced school lunch program. According to 2000 Census information, the population is 37% Hispanic, 43.7% White, 14.1% Asian and 8.4% Black – and 47.1% speak a language other than English at home.
- Pollution: South Park is one of the most polluted areas in our region, making the pristine farmland at Marra Farm a particularly vital community resource. A freeway and a large highway isolate South Park from other, nearby residential neighborhoods of the city. Surrounded by industrial land, South Park includes an unusually high number of industrial sites for a residential neighborhood.
- Food insecurity: Access to nutritious food, particularly fresh produce, is very limited in this community. While two small mini-groceries exist, they have limited offerings of fruits and vegetables. South Park has no supermarkets, and Seattle's recent growth in farmers markets has not yet reached the neighborhood.
Marra Farm Coalition Members
- Lettuce Link, a creative urban agriculture effort of Solid Ground, promotes environmental stewardship and organic growing methods while addressing hunger among thousands of families with low incomes throughout Seattle.
- Mien Community Garden is tended by Yao Fou Chao and Mien community members living on low incomes who practice traditional Mien agricultural techniques. All of the food generated goes to feed the families of the gardeners, Mien elders, and food banks in the International District and Beacon Hill neighborhoods.
- P-Patch Program (City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods) works in conjunction with the nonprofit P-Patch Trust to provide community garden space for residents of 44 Seattle neighborhoods. The Marra Farm P-Patch provides 20 garden plots to area residents.
- South Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA) is the community council for and steward of the South Park Residential Urban Village Plan. As the steward to the Neighborhood Plan, SPNA provides the coalition with meeting space, liability insurance, and support in decision-making processes.
- For 15 years, Seattle Youth Garden Works (SYGW) played a key role at Marra Farm, empowering homeless and at-risk youth (aged 14-22) through garden-based education and employment. Youth tended their plots at Marra Farm, sold their produce at the Columbia City Farmer's Market, and received a share of the proceeds from their cooperative market garden business. Due to financial difficulty, SYGW temporarily suspended operations as of January 2010, but has since forged a partnership with Seattle Tilth.
Volunteer: Help grow and harvest! We need volunteers March – November, Tuesdays, Fridays & Saturdays, 10am - 2pm. We have regular volunteer opportunities for individuals, families and groups to help prepare the soil, plant, water, weed and harvest. All of the food grown in the Marra Farm Giving Garden goes to the local food bank.
To volunteer, download the Solid Ground Lettuce Link Volunteer Application (in MS Word format), fill it out and email it to email@example.com. For more information, or to schedule your group, contact Sue at 206.694.6746 x1.
Lettuce Link & Marra Farm in the news
- Seattle kids get a summer on the farm: City park program connecting kids to their food (Q13 FOX News, 6/7/11)
- Seattle Sprouts Urban Farms (by Audrey Quinn, KUOW 94.9 FM, 4/12/10)
- Lettuce Link: Harvesting Volunteers to Benefit Food Banks and Children (by Melanthia M. Peterman, Seattle's Child website, 5/12/09)
- The Giving Gardener (by Amy Pennington, edibleSEATTLE, summer 2008)
- P-Patches, Part 3: Marra Farm (by Martha Baskin, 4KBCS/Green A.C.R.E. Radio, 4/24/08)
- Lettuce gather to honor a productive plot in Seattle's South Park (by Arla Shephard, Seattle Times, 8/9/08)
Partner Contact Information:
Marra Farm Giving Garden is a project of Solid Ground's Lettuce Link program.
Phone: 206.694.6746 x3
Mailing Marra Farm
Address: Solid Ground
1501 North 45th Street
Seattle, WA 98103-6708