Seattle Tilth Programs
For over thirty years, Seattle Tilth has developed and refined a wide range of programs designed to help us reach our mission, including: education programs related to organic food production and preservation, natural resource conservation, and agriculture-based employment and small business development programs.
Our hands-on education programs provide the community with the tools they need to grow organic food, raise livestock, preserve the harvest and take better care of their natural environment. The Master Food Preserver Certification, Permaculture Teacher Training, and the Garden Educator Workshop are all courses designed to extend Seattle Tilth’s impact in the community by helping individuals effectively provide environmental and sustainability education to the broader community.
The Garden Hotline is a free resource that educates the public on ways to reduce waste, conserve water and other natural resources, and minimize the use of chemicals around the home. The Master Composter/Soil Builder (MC/SB) volunteer program is a key partner in Seattle’s waste reduction and recycling efforts. MC/SB helps city residents to recycle food and yard waste at their homes, build healthy urban soils and support thriving landscapes throughout the city.
Seattle Youth Garden Works (SYGW), Seattle Tilth Farm Works and the Urban Food Hub represent Seattle Tilth’s newest employment and small business development programs. SYGW combines agriculture and enterprise to create a practical and meaningful employment experience for homeless and at-risk youth. Seattle Tilth Farm Works helps refugees, immigrants and other low-income individuals overcome obstacles to create small, organic farming businesses. The Urban Food Hub is a food distribution program to support small farms and supply food to low income populations.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
In 2012, Seattle Tilth's farm programs have expanded to serve more diverse and low income populations. Seattle Tilth Farm Works, a small business farm incubator program for immigrant and new farmers, thrived in 2011, and is the foundation for Seattle Tilth's newest venture, the Urban Food Hub.
After a year working with farmers, we realized that the distribution is the primary barrier for success for small farmers. Language barriers and marketing challenges inhibited farmers from taking their produce to market and creating relationships with restaurants and grocery stores. Seattle Tilth launched the Urban Food Hub to aggregate produce from small farmers, pay a fair price, and provide produce to restaurants and grocery stores. A portion of the food grown on our farms also goes to Good Food Boxes, a subsidized organic produce box for low-income families. This pilot year has been so successful that we plan to expand operations in 2013.
Simultaneously, Seattle Tilth will expand Seattle Youth Garden Works (SYGW) to host a second site in South Seattle. The youth in the program will be working at the Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands, Seattle Tilth's newest farm, and they will also be producing food for market and for the Urban Food Hub. We will continue SYGW both at this site and the UW Botanical Gardens (formerly CUH), the longtime home of SYGW.
Seattle Tilth’s greatest challenge currently is growing its capacity fast enough to meet increasing community needs. Seattle Tilth has the expertise and experience to serve the community, but that is a challenge when we need more staffing and systems in place to meet demand. Luckily Seattle Tilth has thoughtful and strategic leaders who understand and are committed to investing in building organizational capacity to serve the community more effectively and efficiently.