Councilmember Godden left office on January 1, 2016.
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The Saga of Hazel’s Garden



Behind every city P-Patch, there is a story. Behind the Hazel Heights P-Patch, which opened a couple of weeks ago in Fremont, there is an odyssey. The Fremont neighborhood garden required more than 10 years of effort and the energies and efforts of an entire neighborhood.

A short history: For many years, Hazel and Don Hurlbert lived on the West side of the Fremont neighborhood. The Hurlberts gardened using an extra lot between their house and Northwest 42nd Street, the site currently known as the Hazel Heights P-Patch.

After the Hurlberts passed away, their heirs kept the house and garden lot off the market long enough for the neighbors to arrange for purchase of the lot. Former Fremont Neighborhood Council president Beckey Sukovaty approached every potential source for funds. Urban Sparks’ Jack Tomkinson was able to facilitate a purchase through an anonymous donation. A steering committee, led by David Clarridge, obtained a $100,000 Neighborhood Matching Fund grant.

Due to a steep slope, the P-Patch required a SEPA review and a master use permit, therefore the cost of construction was far more than a typical P-Patch. Midway through the project, Clarridge succumbed to cancer. Other volunteers, led by co-chairs Marya Felenchak and Toby Thaler, soldiered on. Everyone dug into their pockets and helped pick other pockets. Eventually, the P-Patch would require funding help from the City of Seattle, County and State.

The garden is quite extraordinary. It has an 8,000 gallon cistern under the central plaza, fed by rainwater from nearby neighbors’ roofs. There are 19 garden plots, on-site fruit trees and fruiting vines, a beehive and native plantings along the south slope, native hazel nut trees and a plot dedicated to supply local food banks.

I became involved after having attended a Neighborhood Night Out party several years into the saga.  I was there at the finish, lucky enough to be invited to the grand opening on March 21. The festive ribbon cutting was well attended, complete with remarks by Hazel Heights gardener Tory Gildred, who served as master of ceremonies. Steering committee members who had worked long and hard on the project were there, as were neighborhood youngsters and their pets. And then there were the singers, accompanied by guitarist and food bank gardener Ron Ryseff.

They sang the “Community Garden Song.” One of the verses recapped the saga.

“Writing grants, moving stones.

Bold dreams & interest free loans

Making place for community

With a P-Patch on this land.

Gravel, mud, sun & rain

Found our way through permit pain

Turned our bodies & our brains to

The needs of steep slope plans.”