Gardening where the sidewalk ends

Agent 0001 May 10, 2009

On the way home from the Tilth plant sale last weekend, I made my family do a pull-over so I could go back and photo a planter box on the street that I’d spotted. It was in a rather sad and lonely stretch of cemented-over parking strip, just placed on top with a square-foot-gardening overlay. I thought it was pretty brave of whomever had put it out there, they must really really want some extra space!

"Square Foot Gardening" raised bed on concrete

Of course, once I was out of the car, I had to look across the street and see what was going on over there, where the cement was confined to the sidewalk and the parking strip was completely planted up. I was admiring this kind of naturalized-looking garden on the corner…

Nicely naturalized parking strip garden

when the biggest parking strip planter bed I’ve yet to see in my entire life caught my eye, just one plot over:

Mondo giganto raised bed in parking strip

I didn’t do a very good job of capturing the immensity of this thing – it’s easily 20 feet long, and probably a good 18″ high, fully planted with a tree, flowers, veggies… like a mini farm right there on a semi-busy street.

Long and deep raised bed in parking strip

Basic but super sturdy construction, using 2 X 6es and posts, nailed together. This is quite a pea patch for a street garden! Collards too.

Peas galore in parking strip raised bed

Salad greens galore, plus marigolds to keep the baddie bugs away:

Lettuces and marigolds in parking strip raised bed

The iris, tulips and tree are permanent residents, with veggies and annual flowers rotating in and out with the seasons:

Veggies and flowers in big raised bed

Looking down the street, it seems the neighbors have gotten into the act too, with similar, although smaller, beds.

Raised beds in parking strip

While I was out there admiring and photo-ing, the owner happened to walk by. I always feel a little funny when my stealth missions turn out not to be so stealthy, but this fellow was friendly as could be and actually seemed excited to talk about his street garden. Turned out his story was pretty interesting, so I’m really glad I happened by at that exact moment and met Gary.

When I asked him about his really impressive raised bed, he said it used to be even bigger, and stretch all the way from the sidewalk to the street. This was many years ago, before planter boxes in the parking strip were anything but extremely rare. Someone from the city saw it, didn’t like how cars couldn’t open their doors if they parked next to it, and cited him and requested it be removed. He said okay, how can I get a permit and do it right? The city didn’t have a permit for sidewalk raised beds at that time, only some rules which weren’t so easy to work within. So Gary helped get the permit process shaped up and ended up with Seattle parking strip raised bed permit # 0001. To me, that makes him a legend.

Why does he garden on the street? To get more space and sun, to make something beautiful, to have more home-grown edibles, to meet neighbors and passers-by, to spread the word on gardening in this way. How cool is that? I hereby dub him Agent 0001, Licensed to Till!

Parking Strip Raised Bed Gardener #1


16 Responses to “Agent 0001”

  1. Chiot's Run Says:

    I love it when I see things like this. I get excited when I see others growing veg in their front yard! We have some neighbors that are getting in to it after seeing all of our vegetables & fruits.

  2. keewee Says:

    Now there’s someone using their brain. What a great way to use otherwise wasted space.

  3. Catherine Says:

    That is great! I love that people make use out of any unplantable area. It looks so pretty and I bet it does get a lot of sun there for all the veggies growing. I think Agent 0001 is great!

  4. Melanthia Says:

    His beds look awesome. It’s great that you got to talk to him, too. Hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day.

  5. Great post! Fun to learn about the folks who are out there making a difference. BTW I took pics of my neighbors parking strip garden and a few other parking strips around town. I’ll be doing a post dedicated to you and your blog later this week!

  6. Very cool! That’s what I love to see! He has really paved the way for others šŸ™‚

  7. RainGardener Says:

    That is so cool. Especially that he came and told you that great story. Agent 0001 – love the Licensed to Til! Aren’t you the witty one!

  8. Megan Says:

    Wow. That’s like your sidewalk garden valhalla. Good find.
    I always scurry off if someone catches me taking pictures. I guess it’s good to talk to people after all. What are the odds you’d meet the guy who basically kicked off the sidewalk gardening movement?

  9. easygardener Says:

    What an interesting post. He’s obviously a very enthusiastic gardener and a pioneer! His sidewalk garden is a real labour of love.

  10. Georgia Says:

    License to Till – you have a way with words Karen! A great story.

    Question: is there soil against the tree trunk in the raised bed?

  11. Cynthia Says:

    Isn’t it something that you just happened to stop by his raised sidewalk bed? Most of been fate seeing that he helped shape up the permit process for sidewalk gardens. What an amazing by chance encounter!

  12. Jen Says:

    Let’s hear it for Gary – one of the good guys!!

  13. Christy Says:

    What street did you find this on? I have heard that there are new Seattle wide rules allowing for curbside planting, but I haven’t seen it yet – that is so cool! šŸ™‚

  14. Katie Says:

    What a cool story! Thanks for sharing the awesome street gardens of Seattle.

  15. Favorite post of the week by far…outstanding! I am so glad you go on these missions and share with all of us!!! Kim

  16. Paula Says:

    Isn’t it fun to meet the gardener behind the garden! I love how this chance encounter came about, too. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s