City Soil Farm: A Record Year for White Center Food Bank Donations

King County Wastewater Treatment Division employees thin apples at City Soil Farm

City Soil Farm, located at King County Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) South Plant is a small farm that produces food for the community and demonstrates the benefits of turning wastewater into valuable resources such as recycled water and Class A biosolids. City Soil is a place where the hard work of staff and volunteers means that local community members in need will be fed fresh produce.

The 2021 growing season produced a record 5,568 pounds of fresh food that was donated to White Center Food Bank (WCFB). This was made possible through a strong partnership between our utility and the WCFB; where staff collaborated in the spring to select culturally relevant crops that would provide the most food for the WCFB customers. With harvesting help from WCFB staff, we were able to donate produce that went directly to community members, often travelling from CitySoil Farm to the dinner table all in one day.

The Asset Management Team sets up a bean trellis at City Soil Farm as a team-building activity.

Making Connections

2021 marked another year of social distancing, remote work and many postponed in-person gatherings. However, one special place, City Soil Farm, became a destination for safe outdoor gatherings. Our staff came to the farm for weekly work parties, which were a wonderful way of building connections with colleagues while completing much-needed farm projects. Many groups chose to stick around for lunch and had outdoor team meetings after their farm work was done for the day.

Staff member Erika Kinno shared her experience at the farm, “I loved getting away from my desk and connecting with coworkers I hadn’t seen in a while, while doing something important and useful.”

Culturally Relevant Seed Start program takes root

King Conservation District (KCD) supports a network of immigrant and refugee-led urban farm sites in the area, but were challenged in sourcing vegetable starts that meet their gardener’s needs. City Soil Farm supported their seed start program this year by providing greenhouse space for KCD staff to grow hundreds of plant starts including Okra, Malabar Spinach, and Nam Tao Yao Bottle Gourd that were used in community urban farms.     

DirtCorps uses Recycled Resources to Restore Local Urban Habitats

The DirtCorps tree nursery at CitySoil continues to be a source of native plants for impactful environmental projects. The young plants are irrigated with recycled water and fertilized with compost made from Class A biosolids. Trees from the nursery are then used to re-forest South Seattle with partner Duwamish Valley Youth Corps. And many plants from the nursery find homes at restoration sites along the Green/Duwamish River; helping make our local rivers healthier.

Teens learn about recycled water

Education programs return

Our education team was able to teach limited in-person programs at the farm during the summer months. Youth and adult groups visited the farm to learn about local water systems and practice sustainable gardening. Teens from youth programs including Unleash the Brilliance, Truman’s Native Plant Club, Friends of Youth, and our own Clean Water Ambassadors Program toured City Soil Farm and completed service-learning projects.

Young volunteers harvest blueberries

Looking ahead to 2022

City Soil Farm received an internal grant to build an outdoor covered teaching space and a new greenhouse, which will allow the farm to serve our community even better! The farm will continue to host staff work parties, and hopefully get to see more community groups and education program participants in-person during the next growing season!