One of the most rare of its kind in perhaps the whole nation, InterIm Community Development Association plans on building a community outdoor kitchen, or “Neighborhood Cookery” as part of Danny Woo Garden. The project is slated for completion in late-June of 2014.
“We could not find any examples that fit what we are trying to do,” said Rachel Duthler, Interim’s garden coordinator, speaking of the preliminary research that informed kitchen planning. “All of the examples were of indoor kitchens. … We are trying to create a hybrid: a kitchen/food prep area that still has an outdoor vibe. Having an outdoor kitchen better helps people — especially youth — make the connection that the food they harvest can become the food on their plate: that all food was once harvested somewhere, by someone.”
The outdoor cooking facility will serve as a classroom and congregation point for gardeners, children participating in the community garden’s activities and neighborhood residents.
“We need a space not just to cook food but to prepare and eat the food. We also need a learning space,” said Tom Im, community planner at InterIm. “What better place than in the garden where we are growing our food?”
The kitchen will be built near the Danny Woo Children’s Garden on the southwest corner of Danny Woo Garden. The children’s garden serves children in pre-kindergarten through 6th grade as well as teens in high school.
“The classes are garden-focused and teach children how to plant seeds and nurture them to where they can be harvested,” said Im, mentioning that students also learn about biology, ecology and other related sciences through the gardening program.
The inspiration for the cookery sprouted from working with youth on different components of this program, said Duthler.
“When the kids come, two things attract the kids to the program: One is the chickens and the other is cooking one’s own food,” said Duthler.
With a $100,000 grant from the City of Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, the cookery will be completed in conjunction with the University of Washington’s (UW’s) Department of Architecture. Professor Steve Badanes’ students from UW’s Neighborhood Design Build Studio will begin designing and building the outdoor kitchen in late-March.
Badanes’ class has been in collaboration with Interim on several projects in the CID as early as 1989, including Danny Woo Garden’s sitting area.
“The park is very popular, and we hope to make it better,” said Badanes, adding that he also plans to maintain the tradition and aesthetic of the CID.
The Seattle chapter of nonprofit group Architects Without Borders will also be working on the cookery design elements that will create additional seating space or tie in other parts of the garden to the new outdoor kitchen, said Duthler.
Both Duthler and Im agreed that the cookery has much potential to become a communal kitchen, dining room and classroom.
Im believes the cookery could potentially become a center for the broader community to formally and informally hold potlucks to share meals together. It could also serve as a place for more intergenerational community gathering with the seniors who work in the garden.
In addition to being a major attraction for young people, Duthler said the cookery is facing the street and can be visibly seen from the outside, so the rate of unwanted and criminal activity may decline as community groups dominate the area.
Until the cookery opens next summer, parents of 3rd to 5th graders can help sharpen their children’s math and science skills through gardening at the ID Roots Summer Farm Camp at Danny Woo Garden, which takes place between July 29 and August 2. The cost is $10 for the entire camp.