History. Culture. And, integrity. These three elements were spoken by Jonathan Chen, Seattle’s Danny Woo Garden Manager, to an intimate crowd of community supporters, International District elders, children and families during the groundbreaking ceremony for the Danny Woo Children’s Garden on May 15, 2010.
History: The garden was built in 1975 by the efforts of InterIm CDA, a non-profit organization in Seattle’s International District that serves the community’s low-income residents through advocacy and culturally relevant revitalization projects. The Danny Woo Garden was amongst its projects to promote the health and well-being of immigrant elders who can then grow their native vegetables.
Today, the vision has expanded to a children’s garden where history, tradition and gardening knowledge can be passed down from elders to the next generation.
“The mission is to preserve and sustain the knowledge of growing food,” says Chen. “It’s to teach the young to care for the earth.”
Culture: The 1.5 acre garden became a green space for API immigrants who live in Seattle’s International District. The garden allows new waves of immigrant children to share ownership and preserve its cultural essence.
“I want the garden to embody a sustainable and urban agriculture,” says Chen. “I want to preserve the knowledge of gardeners by teaching youth in the neighborhood how to grow food.”
The groundbreaking ceremony reflected that cultural value as senior citizens in their 90s to youth as young as toddlers gathered together to witness a two-year vision turned reality thanks to grants from Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods and donations raised during InterIm CDA’s 2008 Gala. Together, the crowd shared a meal that included platters of fresh vegetables, veggie patties and organic chocolate bars. Children stationed themselves with volunteers to start planting corn and making pots out of recyclable paper.
Integrity: The Danny Woo Children’s Garden has just been unveiled, but ideas and educational curriculums are already underway, including a two-week youth garden project in the summer for only $5 per child. The concept of the children’s garden hopes to reflect the consistent values of historical preservation and perhaps be used as a model for other sustainable projects.
“This model can be in conjunction with other projects,” says InterIm Executive Director, Hyeok Kim. “It can help dispel the notion that low-income youth and family don’t need green and open spaces.”