Steps towards establishing Seattle's P-Patch program were taken in the early 1970s, when University of Washington student Darlyn Rundberg asked for and was given permission to use a small portion of the Picardo Family truck farm in Wedgewood for a small community garden. She used the borrowed land to teach children at nearby Wedgewood Elementary School how to grow vegetables, and to encourage donations to the Neighbors in Need food bank program. In 1973, the City of Seattle decided to buy the Picardo property and established a community gardening "P-Patch" program, so named to honor the Picardos for making the land available.

The Department of Human Resources oversaw the program in its beginnings. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, budget cuts limited support for the P-Patch program as some community members and City employees believed that the limited funding for social programs could be better utilized elsewhere. A fee schedule was established in 1970 to supplement funding by charging participants to use the plots. By 1983, funding for the program was limited entirely to plot fees which had restricted participation as they were increased significantly in 1980.

The P-Patch Advisory Council was established in 1979 to serve as an advocate and liaison between the gardeners and the City Council. The Advisory Council worked closely with the City Council and the Department of Human Resources to obtain funding through block grants and reestablish the program's services.

The program was moved to the Department of Neighborhoods in 1990, which still administers it today. By 1993, the P-Patch program was the nation's largest community gardening program. With over 90 locations in neighborhoods throughout Seattle, P-Patch plots come in various shapes, sizes, and ownerships. In addition to providing community garden spaces, the P-Patches give back to the community by supplying fresh, organic produce to Seattle food banks and feeding programs.

For a comprehensive history of Seattle's P-Patch Program, please see the Department of Neighborhood's "P-Patch Community Gardening 50th Anniversary" article.


On August 26, 1983, the Seattle City Council's Public Safety and Health Committee held a special meeting to discuss the future of the P-Patch program, which was run by the Department of Human Resources at that time. Points of discussion focused on who should administer the program, what services should be provided for the gardeners and how the program should be funded. Committee Chair Jack Richards opened the meeting by pointing out the many community benefits of the program including providing an opportunity for urban residents to grow vegetables (something they might not otherwise be able to do in a cramped city environment), food banks benefitting from the surplus food grown by gardeners, and support for low income families to grow their own food.

Community members and P-Patch advocates provided public testimony with suggestions for restructuring and improving the program. Opponents' main concerns were that the gardens were an "eye sore" and cost the City too much money in terms of water and maintenance. Some speculated whether gardening was actually taking place at the P-Patch locations and expressed concern over potential hazards created by the gardens. Advocates underscored the points that Richards touched on as well as highlighting the importance of the program to immigrant communities, while also raising concerns regarding restrictions the high costs that the City was charging for program participation. They offered a variety of suggestions for improvements, including lowering the cost and hiring more staff to monitor the plots and support the community gardeners. They also suggested moving oversight of the program to the Department of Parks and Recreation.


  • Joe Garcia from the Department of Human Resources, working with the P-Patch Advisory Council, provides a historical overview of the P-Patch program, the City's involvement, and funding changes that have impacted the program. Audio | Transcript
  • Brita Butler-Wall, a board member of the Ravenna-Bryant Community Association, advocates for the gardens as a valuable resource for refugees she has worked with. Audio | Transcript
  • Leonard (Len) B. Mandelbaum, Associate Professor of Business at Seattle University, shares the results from a student study on the P-Patch Program that he oversaw and makes recommendations for maintaining the work. Audio | Transcript
  • Mike Carney, a civil engineer and active community volunteer, explains how refugees he has sponsored benefit from the gardens, specifically in South Holly Park. Audio | Transcript


Public Safety and Health Committee, Public Hearing, August 26, 1983, Event 9721, City Council Audio Recordings, Record Series 4601-03 (listen to audio of entire meeting)

Public Safety and Health Committee agenda, August 17, 1983, City Council Committee Agendas, Record Series 4600-10


Textual Records

P-Patch Program Records, 1975-2009, Record Series 5751-10

P-Patch Surveys, 2001, Record Series 5751-09

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Community Issues, 1991-2003, Record Series 5750-06

P-Patch, 1985-1986, Box 10, Folder 5, Community Services Division Director's Records, Record Series 3625-01

Moving Images

Who Gets the Green?, 1996, Item 3010, Jane Noland Video Collection, Record Series 4663-06

A City Among the Trees: Planting for Our Future, 1997, Item 3254, Urban Forestry Moving Images, Record Series 8108-01


P-Patch slides, 1990, Department of Neighborhoods Photographs, Record Series 5750-08, Box 1, Folder 1

Aerial of 25th Ave NE and NE 82nd looking north - includes corner of Dahl Playfield, August 1, 1974, Item 204577, Engineering Department Negatives, Record Series 2613-07

Aerial of 25th Ave NE and NE 82nd - includes Dahl Playfield and Wedgewood Pool , August 1, 1974, Item 204576, Engineering Department Negatives, Record Series 2613-07

Joint Training Facility, September 20, 2004, Item 159223, Fleets and Facilities Department Capital Programs Digital Photographs, Record Series 0208-01

Celebration of completion of Parks and Green Space Levy P-Patch Projects at "Unpaving Paradise", August 29, 2013, Item 194213, Mayor's Office Digital Photographs, Record Series 5200-03

Belltown Cottage Park and P-Patch, Downtown Seattle Park, June 13, 2005, Item 150058, Department of Parks and Recreation Digital Photographs, Record Series 5802-15

Municipal Archives, City Clerk

Anne Frantilla, City Archivist
Address: 600 Fourth Avenue, Third Floor, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94728, Seattle, WA, 98124-4728
Phone: (206) 684-8353

The Office of the City Clerk maintains the City's official records, provides support for the City Council, and manages the City's historical records through the Seattle Municipal Archives. The Clerk's Office provides information services to the public and to City staff.