Alleycat Acres is a program of The Common Acre
Why we exist
Alleycat Acres reconnects people, place, and produce by building a network of community run farms.
Food is more than what we eat: it’s a medium through which we can forge intimate, meaningful relationships between people and place. Farming is a medium that reconnects us, both mentally and physically, to our surroundings. We believe urban food systems are key in creating healthy communities.
Our work isn’t just our work. It’s the collaborative effort of everyone involved. What we do is determined by those who speak out and aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and work side by side to make great things happen. In other words, we don’t make the decisions. You do.
Issues surrounding food production and access – and urban land use, for that matter – are wide and many. We believe each and everyone of us has a powerful story to tell based on our experiences and the lives we’ve lived. We seek inclusivity because we know our stories, once discussed, can lead to powerful change – and to creating new relationships between people who’d never normally meet.
High Five Oriented.
We like to have fun. And we personally rate high fives over hand shakes.
We strive to find innovative ways to put culture back into agriculture. Our current projects include transforming an undeveloped street into a community garden, renovating the grounds of Cascade People’s Center, installing an edible walking trail on City Light’s Duwamish Valley transmission corridor, and a series of “farmlets” in parking strips across the Central District. Recently, these farms have:
Cleared and cultivated a total of 13,000 square feet of underutilized landed formerly overgrown by invasive species into healthy growing space (7,830 sq ft were acquired in 2017)
Provide food share stipends for participating volunteers (over 750 hours counted in donated volunteer time for 2017!)
Donated an estimated 2500 total lbs of produce in the last 21 months to local service providers and food banks: Immanuel Community Services, Rainier Valley Food Bank, Cherry Street YWCA, Monica’s Village Place, Mary’s Place Food Bank, and Recovery Cafe
Created organizational partnership opportunities, ranging from volunteer procurement, resource donations, and produce recipients, as reflected by our current 27-partner portfolio
How we do it
We work with public spaces and private landowners to transform plots of land into community farms.
We facilitate community meetings in an effort to engage and empower neighbors in the farm's development.
We seek farm coordinators within the neighborhood to oversee and manage the needs of each space.
Farm coordinators organize a set schedule of work parties throughout the summer where they are present to answer questions and introduce how the farms are run. They are the point person who will plan out the season and is knowledgeable with all things veggies.
We organize and facilitate community events and workshops hosted by each farm.
We encourage neighbors to be active in the space both independently and as a community.
How the farms run
There are no “individual plots.” Our farms operate as a whole; that is to say that anyone who is involved is responsible for as much – or as little – of the space as they wish.
During the growing season, each site has a weekly work night. During these nights, the farm coordinator is present.
Volunteers, once familiar with the space and the needs of each farm, can work onsite at any time throughout the week.
Harvesting is generally done on the same day as the weekly work night for the farm. We coordinate our harvests with the distribution days of local food banks to ensure delivery of fresh produce.
Harvests are split between anyone who works on the farm and community partners. Volunteers opt to take some home with them, donate their share, or both. It’s all up to the individual and their immediate needs.
We don’t require minimum service hours to get a share of food. Nor, for that matter, do we decide what a share consists of. That is all decided by anyone present the day of harvesting.
During the off season, work parties generally shift to the weekends and aren’t as frequent.