In response to King Conservation District (KCD)’s continuing commitment to meet the needs of urban constituents, the district developed a community agriculture mapping tool through a responsive, mobile-friendly website. The website’s goals are threefold: 1) compile and maintain a list of community gardens; 2) share soil testing case studies; and 3) offer opportunities for involvement to gardeners, volunteers and funders.
Understanding that many urban dwellers do not have access to either land or fresh produce (much of South King County is labeled a USDA food desert), engaging the urban audience through fresh food production and gardening allows the district to provide education on natural resource topics like stormwater runoff, water quality, soil fertility, water catchment, urban habitat and cover cropping.
Additional engagement plans include pushing it out at the NW Flower and Garden Show, reaching at least 1,200 people; reaching out to the district’s 35-member jurisdictions (34 cities and King County); announcing and highlighting in KCD monthly electronic newsletter with a readership of 5,000 including many area elected officials; highlighting at the district’s annual native plant sale, engaging with roughly 800 people; and sharing with the Puget Sound Conservation District Caucus, twelve CDs surrounding Puget Sound.The website was soft-launched on December 20 for feedback from the 18 gardens involved, and then went fully live on January 2. To date, there have been requests from nine additional gardens across King County to be added to the site.
Creating the website in a way that drives interested people out to the individual gardens and organizations was an important decision in ensuring the tool’s sustainability. While KCD’s Community Agriculture Coordinator will curate information, keep a regular blog, field questions, and make introductions as part of the position’s role, most of the on-the-ground information gathering and volunteer coordination will be managed by the broader urban agriculture community.