By Alia Sinclair
Growing up in Woodinville, WA, Katie Ross, a current SeaTac local, always bemoaned how disconnected her neighborhood was. People lived next door to one another sometimes for decades, but never spoke or shared their lives with each other.
When Ross moved to SeaTac in the spring of 2019, she was determined to live differently. An opportunity for connection came when she had a pile of lumber in her garage from an old play structure. She knew just what to do with it — build a farm stand.
“When you grow a vegetable garden, you often end up with more than you know what to do with,” says Ross. “I’ve always loved when neighbors will say ‘hey, I have a million tomatoes, can I give you some?’ I really wanted to foster that on a larger scale.”
Ross built the stand right in her front yard next to the sidewalk where neighbors regularly walk by. The cheerfully painted farm stand reads “Take Some. Bring Some. Share Some.” And it didn’t take long before neighbors began doing just that.
But it was more than excess produce that began showing up in the stand. Quickly, it was transformed by its contributors into an all-out food pantry.
“The community made it something so much more than what I had intended it for,” Ross says of the transformation. “They said, ‘this is what we need’ and that’s what they used it for. Now it’s a whole food pantry, everything from baby formula and diapers to hand-knit potholders and custom-made breakfast kits have shown up there. People have really thought through what someone else may need.”
There are several regular contributors to the farm stand, people who have made an effort to find Ross when she is out tending to her own garden and thank her for what she’s done for the community.
“I think during the pandemic there was an instilled sense of helplessness, of not know what to do to help,” Ross says of her community. “The farm stand gave them something tangible they could do, to contribute and make a difference.”
Ross, a professional horticulturist, hopes to be able to offer more agricultural education to the SeaTac community in the future.
“Everything in my front garden is edible,” she says. “Very often I will be out working in the garden and neighbors will come by asking me about the things I grow, wanting to learn how to do it themselves.”
Ross hopes to eventually offer classes in things like turning your lawn into a low-maintenance edible garden, or how to build and start a raised bed.
“It’s learning to be independent as a community, to enable people to provide for themselves and care for their own needs.”
Alia Sinclair is a writer residing in SeaTac. She is passionate about the arts and connecting people through the written word. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of her passion project Patchwork Mosaic, a magazine for creatives.