ALLEYCAT ACRES • Beacon Hill
On the slopes overlooking the Cheasty Greenbelt, with a view from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Baker, grows Alleycat Acres urban garden, with strawberries, potatoes, cukes, carrots, peppers, squash, beans, lettuce, and more. Honey bees and mason bees are also part of the picture too: neighbors stop by to say hi when we’re inspecting bees; we teach classes for volunteers and youth workers; and of course the plants get pollinated, delicious bounty there for the picking. Our bees have been part of this project since 2011.
ALLEYCAT ACRES • Central District
Nestled between a church and a family home at Columbia Street and MLK Way, this project — Alleycat’s third — was instituted in 2012. A veritable urban farm, it features a sprocket garden (go bikes!), a hops patch, chickens, bio-char workshops, harvest parties, and our bees. Plenty of foot traffic passes through the sunny alley, and we find ourselves gladly doing impromptu bee tutorials with the neighbors.
BEACON FOOD FOREST • Beacon Hill
Years in the making, Beacon Food Forest broke (or “made”) ground in the fall of 2012 with extensive sheet mulching and the planting of fruit and nut trees that will serve as a forest canopy. P-Patches, swales, a children’s area and other features are being built and grown through intensive volunteer effort. We installed our honey and mason bees there in April 2013, having participated since 2011 with Food Forest planning. The project is rooted in Permaculture design, which means it depends on the relationships between plants, people, creatures, and nature’s bounty. Bees are part of this, as pollinators and as a focal point for classes and conversations.
YESLER TERRACE • First Hill
Our bees have been part of the community gardens behind Yesler Terrace since 2011. A wild space in view of Smith Tower, I-5, and Harborview Hospital, the property sits on the slope overlooking the International District and Beacon Hill. Numerous community gardens grow in the space between old apple trees, a blackberry hillside, and resident hawks and woodpeckers: P-Patches, Senior Gardens, and GroundUp Organics. Our bees pollinate these gardens, and we also participate in GroundUp’s education program: our focus with their kids is on bees not just as pollinators and food creators, but also as examples of communication, leadership, and community.
In addition to our community gardens, we also keep bees in selected backyards. This service — for which we charge a small fee — helps support our work in the community gardens just mentioned. It also offers pollination for neighborhood gardens and offers homeowners a chance for up-close experiences with bees. We stay within the scale of the property and neighborhood, using no more than two colonies per property. We also supply our properties with wildflower forage and encourage the maintenance of bee habitat to support these and native pollinators.