World Relief Seattle
Location: Kent, Washington
Status: In progress
Type: Community Garden & Teaching Kitchen
Expected Impact: 900 refugees and immigrants
Project Manager: Shannon Benya
For Kent’s newest East Hill residents, many of whom relocated here as refugees and asylum seekers representing over 50 nations, few have access to healthy foods, culturally appropriate ingredients, and the opportunity to connect to their agrarian roots by growing fruits and vegetables themselves. Hillside Paradise Parking Plots Community Garden is changing that. Construction for Change & 3030 Project, in partnership with World Relief, King Conservation District and Hillside Church is re-imagining a one acre portion paved parking lot donated by Hillside Church to create a community garden and build out a teaching kitchen.
Many of the past and present refugee and asylum participants of World Relief as well as the diverse community in Kent have agrarian backgrounds. However, living in apartments, in a fairly densely urban city offers little connection to the soil and a chance to grow food. Especially culturally appropriate fruits and vegetables are not available in the local grocery stores. Most of World Relief's participants use public transportation and live in certified food deserts in the East Hill and West Hill areas of Kent.
It has been a dream of theirs to provide a community garden and teaching kitchen for refugee and immigrant community members. The purpose of the garden is to grow culturally appropriate foods that promotes a healthier lifestyle, improve food access, foster economic independence and build community. With an easy one bus connection, the garden will be uniquely situated to meet the needs of refugees and immigrants in the East Hill neighborhood which includes East Hill Elementary where students come from over 48 countries are educated and 65% of the study body qualifies for free and reduced lunch subsidies as well as West Hill neighborhood.
The garden will be open for public use and easily accessible by the nearly 900 immigrants and refugees settled annually in the area by World Relief. Having a place to grow fresh, healthy, culturally relevant foods is the goal of the Hillside Paradise Parking Plots.