Seattle Works

A blog that documents all things Seattle Works…and much much more!

Building community: An inexact science May 3, 2012

Filed under: HandsOn Leadership,Lead — seattleworks @ 3:50 pm

The skeleton of Marra Farm’s new hoop house takes shape during its March 31 construction.

As Yao Fou hammers a short two-by-four into the frame of the hoop house that’s under construction, Jose interjects:

“No, it should go lower. Mira. (Look.’)”

He points to a similar two-by-four located at the vertical midpoint of the door on the opposite end of the structure. Together, they tug the support beam into place.

It’s a Saturday at Marra Giving Garden, a four-acre farm in Seattle’s South Park neighborhood where residents grow food for their families, other local residents, the senior lunch program at Providence Regina House Food Bank, Mien senior citizens, and Concord Elementary School. In 2010, the farm produced more than 22,000 pounds of food for the community.

Today, a hoop house—similar to a greenhouse—is going up on the site. As volunteers and farmers struggle with wet lumber, torn plastic sheeting, and heavy loads of wood chips, a structure is taking shape—but not without plenty of conversations about how to fit the pieces in place.

Jose, a member of the Marra Farm Coalition, braces the door frame of the hoop house during its construction.

“How do we brace this corner with the lumber overlapping like this?”

“The wood keeps splitting because it’s too wet. Do we have other scraps?”

“The door is too tall. How do we adjust the frame to make it fit?”

Building a structure like this is similar to community-building: it’s an inexact process that requires flexibility and adjustments along the way. And there is always more than one solution.

Once the hoop house is constructed, Marra Farm faces another challenge: how to use it and manage its upkeep. That’s where our Seattle Works volunteer team comes in. Our team of three is interviewing farmers, researching community greenhouse models, and working with stakeholders to determine what’s possible, what’s desirable, and what’s practical.

While the farmers construct the frame of the hoop house, we are helping construct a framework for how it will be used and maintained. It’s an inexact process that requires flexibility and adjustments along the way.

-Stephanie Blucker, HandsOn Leadership team member partnering with Lettuce Link at Solid Ground 


Want to get in on the HandsOn Leadership action? We’ve got another training session kicking off in May and another weekend option in June:


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