The Magnuson Community Garden

At the Warren G. Magnuson Park
Seattle Parks and Recreation
Amphitheater  | Childrens' Garden | Native Borders | Native Plant Nursery | Orchard  | P-Patch 
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About the Magnuson Community Garden

The history of the garden is detailed on the Magnuson Community Garden Website to assist others in how the garden was built.  This page provides an overview of the process. There are also pages on the design phase and the building phase which was in two parts called Phase I and Phase II. A chapter in the publication, Greening Cities Growing Communities: Learning from Seattle's Urban Community Gardens, also provides a summary with a layout of the garden in relationship to the park and photos (University of Washington Press, 2009).

What Is a Community Garden?

In an urban setting community gardens are part of the open space  network.  The gardens and those who participate in community gardening contribute to the preservation of open space, provide access to it, and create  sustainable uses of the space.   Community gardens strengthen community bonds, provide food, and create recreational and therapeutic opportunities for a community.  They can can also promote environmental awareness and provide community education. Public community garden programs are generally administered by the community development or parks department. In Seattle the city-wide community gardening program is under the Department of Neighborhoods. Other gardening programs involve public and private schools and other institutions. Some jurisdictions are changing policies to encourage residents to plant vegetables and other edible foods and allow a limited number of farm animals, such as chickens in the city. Seattle is very fortunate to have a city-wide community gardening program under the Department of Neighborhoods.

Seattle is also concerned about sustainability and food security. One of the goals of healthy communities is to improve nutrition in the community as a whole. These strategies are described in the Washington State Nutrition and Physical Activity Plan (NPASP) developed by state department of health and its partners. Washington's strategic plan has among its objectives increasing access to health promoting foods. An example is increasing the availability of and access to local community gardens. Healthy Communities Pilot Projects a have been testing the effectiveness of the plan strategies in local communities. For more information on sustainability and food security, see Seattle's Environment and Sustainability Food Website.

What Is the Magnuson Community Garden?

The Magnuson Community Garden is a 4-acre multi-purpose garden located in Seattle's Warren G. Magnuson Park.  It was developed by volunteers from many organizations over several years.  And, it is still and work in progress.  The garden has been developed under the guidance of the Magnuson Community Garden, a nonprofit organization.

Several components make up the Magnuson Community Garden.  They include the Magnuson P-Patch, the Children's Garden, the Native Plant Nursery, the Native Plant Boarders, the Orchard, and the Amphitheater.

The idea for a community garden in Magnuson Park began in 2000 when the Department of Neighborhood's Sand Point P-Patch needed to be moved to a new location.  For 25 years, the P-Patch had been on property leased from Seattle Children's Hospital on Sand Point Way across from the former Sand Point Naval Station. Children's needed to build on the property. The desire for a new community garden was expressed to city officials at the time when the city was developing reuse plans for the decommissioned Sand Point Naval Base.  The community garden concept was considered by the commission developing a master plan for Sand Point

The Magnuson Park Concept Plan, adopted by Seattle City Council Resolution No. 30063, called for a 4-acre community garden to be located immediately east of the  Brig in  Magnuson Park.  The garden will serve horticultural purposes related to  plant education, demonstrating native plant materials, composting, facilities to accommodate gardening for persons with physical disabilities, in addition to relocating the displaced Sand Point P-Patch at NE 70th and the Burke Gilman Trail.  A coalition of Sand Point gardeners and other interest groups  worked on the design phase of multi-purpose garden which will provide educational opportunities,  programs to integrate gardening into community center activities, and involve the on-site transitional housing families, special plots for production of organic vegetables for local food banks, as well as space for gardeners involved in the city's P-Patch program.

The Magnuson Park Concept Plan

The Magnuson Park Concept Plan provided guidance for the Magnuson Park design.  It included  a Concept Plan Map and the 1997 Physical Development Management Plan for Sand Point as amended by Council Resolution No. 30063.  The final plan was prepared by former  Mayor Paul Schell's Blue Ribbon Committee appointed in June 1998. It was  the result of months of work city staff and the design team lead by Jones & Jones Architects and Landscape Architects.   The Blue Ribbon Committee was charged with conducting a comprehensive review and assessment of the Sand Point Magnuson Park peninsula, including planning, operations, management and financing elements.  The Blue Ribbon Committee's recommendations were considered by the Council in September and adopted on November 1, 1999.  

Why a Community Garden/P-Patch was Included in the Park

Community gardens are part of the concept of providing open space in an urban environment.  When Seattle was working on its Urban Village strategy of denser, pedestrian-oriented neighborhoods in the city's comprehensive plan, community gardens were considered essential public facilities.   Urban gardening can be an important community development tool.  The Blue Ribbon Committee recommended a philosophy to guide park use which basically related to the question, what will a use contribute to the park and its other users, and what public benefits would the use bring.  A community garden in the park will contribute to park use by providing park users educational opportunities, amenities, as well as a place to bring people in the neighborhood together.  Several community gardens have been developed in Seattle Parks including Bradner Gardens, Lincoln Park, and Queen Anne Terrace.

The Garden Vision and Mission

A multi-purpose garden was envisaged on the designated 4-acre site. Completed, it included  neighborhood gardening opportunities, educational programs such as demonstration gardens, composting methods, and native plant cultivation.  The garden serves seniors, transitional housing residents, youth, and the handicapped as well as neighborhood P-Patch gardeners.   The garden encourages people to enjoy an environment that promotes beauty, neighborliness, healthy living and stewardship of the natural resources of the Sand Point Peninsula.

The mission of Magnuson Community Garden is to enhance the quality of urban life and strengthen community bonds by creating and sustaining an organic garden in Sand Point Magnuson Park that will foster environmental stewardship, horticultural education, rejuvenation, and recreation

Planning the Magnuson Community Garden

Initially, the lead for planning a community garden at Magnuson Park was the Magnuson Community Garden Coalition, a group of organizations with a common vision to promote urban ecology, environmental stewardship, beautification of the park, education, and healthy food gardening.  Public input was sought to present ideas to the coalition and the landscape architect engaged to create a plan for the garden.  A series of three public meetings took place May 25, June 7, and July 11, 2000 to develop a final plan which was submitted to the Seattle Design Commission and the Seattle Parks Department.  The Coalition voted to become a nonprofit called the Magnuson Community Garden in the summer of 2001.  Administration of the project was transferred to the nonprofit board in November 2001.  See Magnuson Community Garden Organization

How Was the Garden Funded?

Interested gardeners met in November 1999 to discuss applying to the city for a Neighborhood matching grant to cover the costs of designing a garden in Magnuson Park.  A Small and Simple, $10,000 grant was applied for under the name of the Magnuson Gardens Coalition.  As part of the grant requirement, gardeners pledged volunteer time (in-kind match) to match the dollars of the grant.  The grant was awarded to the group in March 2000 and the process  of community outreach and garden design  began.  A second Small and Simple grant was applied for and received to detail the garden design. The Garden applied for a Neighborhood Large Construction Fund Matching Grant to begin physical construction.  In addition to the matching grant, funding was used from the Pro Parks Fund  levy passed by voters in the fall of 2000.   The basic infrastructure and initial plantings were completed in the spring of 2004.

The Design Process

Notices were published in the Seattle Daily Journal  of Commerce on March 31, 2000 soliciting the services of a landscape architect to assist in the design process.  The firm of Barker Landscape Architects was selected to render a concept design. Three public meetings were held.  The first, on May 25, 2000,  to solicit ideas from the public, the others were to comment and suggest changes to the draft concept.  The design was  finalized and reviewed and approved by the Seattle Design Commission and the Parks Department.  Final construction drawings have been prepared by Barker Landscape.  A SEPA review took place in October 2001 with notice published in the Daily Journal of Commerce.

The Matching Fund Grant

Seattle's Neighborhood Matching Fund Program is a partnership between the City of Seattle and neighborhood-based organizations. The City supplies cash for a neighborhood project and the neighborhood matches the City's contribution with volunteer labor, donated materials, professional services, and cash. For more information see the Department of Neighborhoods Matching Fund Programs.  The Coalition received two $10,000  Small and Simple Projects Fund  awards. Persons participating in the planning process pledged $10,000 in  volunteer labor, donated  materials, professional services, and cash.  The Garden applied for a Department of Neighborhoods Large Project Fund for construction the fall of 2001, and was awarded  $150,000 which was matched by in-kind labor, materials, and cash.   

For detailed description of the design-build process see the pages:

Reviewed 10/2013


Magnuson Community Garden, Warren G.  Magnuson Park - 6344 N.E. 74th St., Suite 104 - Seattle, WA 98115