New Start Community Garden serves both students and community


By Omie Drawhorn

The New Start Community Garden serving Burien, is more than just a place to grow plants, fruits and vegetables. It provides a way for community members to connect with each other, said John Feeney, local resident and president of the New Start Community Garden.

“One woman had been gardening for 6 weeks (in the New Start Garden) and lived in the neighborhood 16 years. In those 6 weeks she had met more neighbors than in the 16 years she’d lived in the neighborhood,” Feeney said.

New Start Community Garden serves both the community of Burien as well as the students of the school. Having the garden on campus provides an opportunity for students to get both high school and college credit for working in the garden. “For some kids, college is not in their vocabulary; it opens their eyes as to what opportunities are available,” he said.

When the Port of Seattle announced the Airport Community Ecology (ACE) Small Matching Grants Fund last year Feeney decided to apply.

Feeney said garden relies entirely on donations for materials and plants. Applying for the ACE Fund was a good opportunity to buy new materials for the garden while taking the burden off of volunteers to provide materials on their own. The garden was one of 11 recipients of the first round of grant funding in the fall.

The Small Matching Grants Program offers community members of SeaTac, Burien, and Des Moines the chance to apply for up to $10,000 of Port funding to improve the local environment. The Port is now accepting applications for the second round of grant funding, which must be submitted by March 26.

Community organizations, chambers of commerce, service organizations, youth or athletic associations, or other associations located in or providing services in the cities of SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines can apply for funding.

One third of the garden (called the Shark Garden) is set aside for high school students to work in, and the other two thirds is a community garden. New Start donated over 1,300 pounds of food to the White Center Food Bank last summer.
Feeney said people come to the garden on common ground.

“They can learn from each other; they can talk about gardening,” Feeney said. “It’s a great way for the community to come together and learn, and get to know each other in a more social environment.”
Feeney said the garden serves as a community resource.

“I think it’s just something that we need in our society today that’s missing,” Feeney said. “People can just come and loosen up, leave their problems at home and just come in here and grow.”

To volunteer with New Start, email [email protected]

Visit https://www.portseattle.org/Environmental/Pages/ecology_fund.aspx to find out more information about the grant application process and to download the application.

Those with questions regarding their application or the grant program can attend any one of three upcoming information sessions held in SeaTac, Burien and Des Moines. The next one will be from 5:30-7 p.m. this Wed, Feb. 7 at Burien Community Center. See below for a complete list of the sessions:

  • Burien
    Wed., Feb. 7: 5:30 – 7 p.m.
    Burien Community Center (14700 6th Ave SW)
    Burien, WA
  • Des Moines
    Wed., Feb 28: 5:30 – 7 p.m.
    Des Moines Library ( 21620 11th Ave S)
    Des Moines, WA
  • SeaTac
    Thurs., March 1: 5:30 – 7 p.m.
    Valley View Library (17850 Military Rd S)
    SeaTac, WA


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