Getting ready to grow at Namaste Garden

Forterra staff, garden leader Dal Diyali, and IRC volunteers prepare the path with donated burlap bags.

A group of about twenty volunteers and gardeners kicked off the growing season in April by giving the Namaste Community Garden in Tukwila a spring makeover. Armed with pitchforks, wheelbarrows and rain jackets, the crew braved the weather to lay down woodchips and create access paths in and around the garden. These new routes will save the gardeners time and effort by reducing the amount of grass to mow, minimizing weed sources and making it easier to get from one end of the garden to the other.

This work is part of an ongoing collaboration to support the Garden, which provides valuable opportunities to grow food and build community for gardeners, most of whom are recent refugees from Burma and Bhutan. Project partners Forterra, landowner St. Thomas Catholic Church, and refugee resettlement group International Rescue Committee worked together to design, fundraise, and build the garden in 2010–2011.

During the work party, volunteers and gardeners also prepared the garden’s compost station by repairing damage from winter storms. The station is now ready to turn garden waste into rich compost, with efforts led by the garden’s compost committee and supported by Seattle Tilth.

Beginning in April, Seattle Tilth will offer workshops throughout the year to help the gardeners make the most of different growing seasons, conserve water, practice crop rotation and improve soil conditions. Although experienced farmers in their home countries, many of the gardeners are still learning how to get the most out of our unique Northwest climate.

More work lies ahead, with a second mountain of wood chips waiting to be placed to add smaller paths in between garden plots and further minimize soil compaction. The work party was made possible by community support including burlap donated by Distant Lands Coffee in Renton, as well as wood chips donated by Asplundh and purchased at a discount from Burien Bark.

To get involved, please contact Adrienne Ramm with IRC: You can also see the rest of Cameron Karsten’s pictures from the event here. Follow the Namaste Garden page for more recent pictures and updates.

Chris Hoffer is a Presidential Management Fellow at US Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was on loan to Forterra from HUD for six months as part of his Fellowship and worked with our Community Policies Team on projects like this throughout the region. He is also a Master Composter and Soil Builder at Seattle Tilth.


Gardeners and volunteers wheel woodchips around to the new pathways. Photos by Cameron Karsten.

Volunteers mulch Namaste Community Garden, Tukwila, WA

Woodchip mulching at Namaste Community Garden in Tukwila

Gardeners planting in Namaste Garden in Tukwila, WA.

IRC’s Volunteer Garden Party in Seattle, WA (Photos by Cameron Karsten)

Take a look at this terrific short documentary by Jennifer Leach about Namaste Garden.

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