The Citizen Oversight Committee for the Parks and Green Spaces Levy has issued its recommendations for the first phase of the Opportunity Fund.  Fifteen projects were recommended to receive $7 million in funding, including two innovative major urban agriculture projects.  Parks and Green Spaces is a $146 million, six-year levy approved by the voters in November, 2008.  The Opportunity Fund consists of $15 million that was designated in the Levy to be available for new and emerging projects.

The recommendations of the Committee will now proceed to the City Council, which will consider them for approval in March of 2011.  Historically, the Council does not change the recommendations of a Committee like this one, and I expect that all of these projects are likely to be approved and can go forward this summer.

The project for an Urban Farm in Southeast Seattle was initially proposed in 2009.  Planning funds were included in a grant from the US Department of Agriculture that was secured after I presented the Council’s Local Food Action Initiative at a meeting with USDA in March of that year.  After considering several possible locations, this year community members and Seattle Parks agreed on the Atlantic City Nursery site.  The Atlantic Street Nursery is owned by the City, and has been used by the Parks Department for growing landscaping plants, but is no longer used for this purpose.

The Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands project will establish a unique green infrastructure development project transforming the Atlantic City Nursery into a working organic urban farm and demonstration wetlands restoration site.  The Citizens Oversight Committee proposes to award this project $500,000.  The Parks Department is expected to approve the project in the near future.

Sustainable Puget Ridge is a community-based initiative in West Seattle that plans to develop the SW Puget Ridge Edible Park.  The Committee awarded $520,000 to this project, which will create an urban community farm that will be a neighborhood meeting place, a community food garden and a test site for environmentally conscientious sustainability.

These two farms will join the existing Marra Farm in South Park as large-scale models for engaging communities in growing food.