The Wing Luke Museum recognizes the Danny Woo Community Garden’s impact on the International District community through their latest exhibit, Seeds of Change Roots of Power.
The community garden, located just five blocks away from the museum, serves some 65–70 low-income elders in the neighborhood and represents a core part of the ID community’s history, development, and culture.
Celebrating four decades of the Danny Woo Community Garden, the new exhibit opened on Thursday, March 3 and celebrates the terraced garden through historic information and large scale pictures of the colorful landscape. Guests from all over the community gathered in the museum’s Ford Foundation Community Hall while listening to guest speakers and enjoying light refreshments.
Among those speaking was the founder of the garden, “Uncle” Bob Santos, and Rob Efird, the exhibition text writer and chair of the Seattle University Department of Anthropology, Sociology and Social Work.
Efird, who came up with the idea of the exhibit, also helped bring it to fruition. Expressing his profound admiration and gratitude for everyone involved from the community, Efird especially thanked Danny and Wilma Woo, on whose property the original garden was constructed on, and all the young activists whose passion and labor built the garden.
Efird says the exhibit is just as much about those who haven’t yet visited or even heard about the garden as it is those who have served in it’s legacy thus far.
“When I thought of this exhibit idea and proposed it about three years ago, I was thinking of you,” Efird said. “I was thinking, here’s this incredible space, this magical place that deserves to be better known and better appreciated and more widely known among the community.”
Santos said the garden has allowed those living in the community, particularly elders, a chance to get outside, feel the dirt in their hands, and produce staple agricultural foods from their respective home countries.
“It allows people to come out and exercise and socialize while also growing produce that they use in their menu’s everyday,” Santos said. “So, it’s sort of a well-rounded service that we provide to bring the elderly together so they can get back into the earth. Many of them come from the rural areas of China, Japan, Philippines, Korea, Vietnam and this is to get them back to their roots,” said Santos.
Many parts of the garden were built by student members of the University of Washington Architecture Design/Build team from 1989 to 2005, including the entry gate and sign, vegetable washing stations, and a pig roast pit which hosts the annual pig roast during an all night community potluck.
The garden expanded its services and began offering summertime gardening and nutritional education for young adults and children living in the area in 2009. Now, over 240 local students annually learn about sustainable gardening practices, sources of natural food, working in kind with the environment and animal caretaking.
“We were only hoping it would last for a couple of decades and so with four plus decades we’re very happy,” Santos said.