Did we have fireworks? Dancing in the street? Did the phoenix arise from the ashes? Perhaps the elation was only in our hearts when the neighborhood received an unexpected holiday gift: the extension of City People’s Garden Store’s lease. The joyful refrains heard throughout the community were certainly real.
The proposed construction at the site has passed the initial phase of the design review but has a few more steps to complete. Due to the slope and nature of the site, construction is only permitted during the dry months of the year. Thus, the building opportunity for 2017 will have passed. Instead of leaving the present building vacant and forlorn during this process, the owners of the land agreed to lease the space to City People’s. The lease runs through December 31, 2017 with options to extend again if the new project is not ready to move forward.
The City People’s Garden Store has two new owners: long-time employees Jose Gonzales and Alison Greene. Jose and Alison are beloved and well-known faces at the Garden Store. Together with three investors, Jose and Alison were able to purchase the business from Steve Magley and Dianne Casper with a very generous deal. Steve and Dianne have stayed on as supportive consultants as the new owners evolve from gardeners to business owners/managers.
“It’s been a really steep learning curve,” Jose admits. He and Alison have been participating in a mentorship program through the national Small Business Administration. They meet monthly with their mentor to formulate their business plan and wade through the mountains of paperwork. “We are lucky to have a great mentor,” Jose said, “and we feel much more comfortable now with the business side of the garden store.”
Many of the previous employees have chosen to stay on with the garden store. They were able to continue at or above their previous salary and benefit program.
Jose and Alison envision the Gift Store’s inventory as a bit more streamlined but with all the usual elements in place. They will continue to offer delivery and potting-up services as well as special orders. The landscaping side of the business has been reinvented as a separate entity: The Peoples Gardening Collective. That business will move forward as a co-op.
City Peeps, as the Garden Store is affectionately known, continues to look for a new site. Given the current land availability in Seattle, this search has been a challenge. They envision a place that is about 15,000–25,000 sq. ft. with 2/3 being outside space and 1/3 inside. They enthusiastically encourage investors and any tips about promising available sites. They will keep the name City Peoples Garden Store.
Jose and Alison optimistically assert that City People’s Garden Store is “Here to stay! We have the passion and people to serve the community and want everyone to know we are here for them”. The staff and community are recovering from the trauma of last year’s sudden closing announcement and are ready to move forward.
Both the local community and Seattle at large wish to extend their heartfelt gratitude to Jose and Alison for their dedicated and bold move to breathe new life into City People’s Garden Store.
I sat down last month with Jim Henkens of Marine Area 7 to learn more about him and his Madison Valley business. We sat near the register on a beautiful afternoon. The door was open and Jim graciously answered my questions between tending to customers.
Lindy: Jim, how would you describe Marine Area 7?
Jim: It’s a curated store of things that I find beautiful and functional.
I know you’re a well-respected food photographer. How does your photography and the store work together?
I’ve been a food photographer for ten years. I source the props at flea markets and sales in the US and Europe. I’d accumulated a storage locker of these culinary antiques, but I couldn’t keep using the same stuff, so my wife Jennifer and I thought it would be fun to open a store selling them, along with other unique culinary items. This is my version of a kitchen store, where you can find things you can’t find anywhere else.
I love that you go on buying trips around the world looking for beautiful objects.
I look for vintage items, as those sell the best. We just got back from ten days in Texas at the Round Top antique fair, and we’re about to get our shipment in.
It seems like just yesterday you opened. How long has your store been open?
We opened in December of 2014, so almost two years.
Who are your customers?
Neighborhood people. People in the food and lifestyle businesses – photographers, stylists, and buyers. We’re slowly getting known for larger items such as furniture and fixtures.
I’ve noticed you’re doing private events here. How did that come to be?
I installed a kitchen in the back for my food photography. Once the kitchen was there customers started asking if they could rent the space. It’s a beautiful space for private parties. We’ve done dinners for 10–14 people. I do the cooking or invite a guest chef to cook.
And are you’re doing public events in the shop?”
Yes. We’re trying to do one a week.
Your photos in these books are beautiful.
Thank you. They gave me a lot of freedom with the photos.
Where does the name Marine Area 7 come from?
Marine Area 7 is the San Juan Islands, where we go crabbing. You have to write the name of the marine area on your catch card, and after writing Marine Area 7 so often, it seemed like a natural.
What do you want customers to know about Marine Area 7?
I want them to know that they can find things here that they can’t find anywhere else. What we sell is unique, high quality, functional, and beautiful.
City People's is offering 28% or more off everything this weekend (9/24 & 9/25) in appreciation of 28 years of your support!*
PLUS: CAKE & RAFFLES & GIVEAWAYS! Prizes include plants, furniture, chocolate, and a commemorative T-shirt.
*Excludes items from our Garden Art Show and Staff Art Show
Many of you have seen the surveyors and trucks on our property and have had questions about what is happening. We are sad to report that the property City People's Garden Store leases is in the process of being sold. While there is still uncertainty as to whether the sale will go through, we are preparing for that possibility.
The timeline is still being determined, but we have been assured of being open at least through 2016. We will keep you posted as details emerge.
We are devastated by this news but are determined to enjoy this year and to make it our best ever. The staff wants everyone to know that we have cherished your support over the years, and we will make the most of the remaining time. We love what we do. Each day we remind ourselves how lucky we have been to work together in such a nurturing environment, in this location, with such great customers.
Some staff are exploring the possibility of creating a new retail nursery if it comes to that. As these plans develop, we will be asking the community for help in this endeavor.
In the meantime, we hope you will continue to visit us in Madison Valley and in return, we will continue to provide a great selection of outdoor plants, houseplants, gift items and excellent customer service.
Thank you very much,
Steve Magley & Staff
When City People’s Garden Store opened in 1988, we had nine employees and one of every size of Felco pruner on our racks. Now, in our busy spring season we are up to about 65 employees (including landscaping) and stocked to the gills with pruners and plants and gardening products and gifts. As we have grown, so has our focus on organic offerings, non-toxic pest controls, and on educating the public about sustainable gardening.
In this very busy and crowded world, taking time out to plant some pots, or grow your own vegetables, or create a quiet green space is more important than ever. And doing so with the least impact on the environment is our goal. You’ll find only organic soils and amendments here, and a variety of organic seeds and edible plant starts. And for ornamental gardens with the least amount of need for water, chemicals, or upkeep, there are dozens of native plants, drought-tolerant plants, and disease resistant ones from which to choose.
In April, there are several free workshops at the Garden Store to help you figure these things out, including Great Plants for the Pacific Northwest, Intro to Permaculture, Succession Gardening for Edibles, and Invasive Plant ID and Control. Descriptions and more free workshops can be found at www.citypeoples.com/garden/events.
We would like to encourage our customers to check in with us about their gardening practices. We are happy to point them toward alternatives to chemicals they may be applying, or are having applied, to their landscape. In the meantime, we are also trying to learn more and more about the pesticides used by our suppliers. While the growers of our trees, shrubs, and perennials cannot go completely without using pesticides, we are communicating with them about their use and encouraging practices that use more natural biological controls than chemical ones. With the awareness that customers and nurseries are requesting safer plants for the bee population and their own health, growers are responding with more careful pest management.
Sometimes just taking a walk through the nursery at City People’s Garden Store can help you get connected with the natural world again. See the many beautiful blooms, the promising edible starts, the elegant trees, and familiar shrubs, and let them inspire you to slow down, take a deep breath and imagine your own green oasis.
[Editor's note: we are posting full articles; please ignore the Read More link. We will be correcting this.]
View Haus 5, the city’s first Passive House-Constructed townhomes, offers a higher quality of life and lower carbon footprint — not to mention much cheaper energy bills.
“It’s about building homes that I would live in with my own family, ” said Cascade Built owner Sloan Ritchie. Most recently, Ritchie did just that with Park Passive, the city’s first certified Passive House. He’s now unveiling his newest Passive House project in his old stomping ground — Madison Valley. View Haus 5, aptly named for its five-unit community, Passive House design and striking views of the Cascade Mountains offers homebuyers the unique chance to live in a healthier, more comfortable home within a community of like-minded buyers just a mile from downtown Seattle.
Homes built to Passive House standards consume 80-90% less heating energy than traditionally built homes. This is achieved with an air-tight, super-insulated building envelope and the capture of solar heat gains through high-performance south facing windows.
Designed by award-winning b9 Architects, View Haus 5 has five distinct homes that were designed to appeal to a diverse group of buyers with a few commonalities. “The buyers of these homes understand the role air toxins play in asthma and allergies, are happiest when they can focus on living and not how much their utility bills will cost during a particularly cold winter, love the accessibility of living in the urban core, and they are visionaries in a larger global movement to reduce energy consumption, ” continued Ritchie.
View Haus 5’s modern design is a mix of 3-story 2b/2ba and 3bd/2ba townhomes ranging between 1,100 and 1,700 square feet. Unlike most townhomes that are mirror units or have one unit type for the entire complex, View Haus 5 bucks the cookie cutter trend with individually designed units. The homes are clad with 100-year old reclaimed barn wood, outdoor spaces include a central common courtyard and private rooftop decks with gas BBQ piping. Interiors offer an open floor plan, large windows, double-height spaces, LED lighting, and modern finishes.
View Haus 5 accompanies Cascade Built’s other Madison Valley projects, including the LEED Platinum Alley House 1, LEED Platinum, modularly built Alley House 2, and newly constructed Valley 3. The homes are just blocks from Madison Valley’s popular restaurants and shops, and within walking distance to Seattle’s bustling Pike/Pine corridor, a future Light Rail station, and one mile from downtown Seattle.
“We know that buildings are the number one consumer of energy in the world, and we know how to change that, but that’s not even what is so amazing about Passive House construction,” continued Ritchie. “For me and my family, it’s an overall improvement in our health and happiness — living comfortably and being mindful of how comfortable it is to sit in front of windows in the middle of winter and not feel an ounce of cold, drafty air.”
View Haus 5 will be completed in mid-November and celebrated with an open house for the community to tour the homes and learn more about Passive House construction. Presale opportunities of the homes will begin on November 7th with selling prices starting in the low $500,000 range.
“A friend of mine said it years ago when we were enjoying life and what it had to offer to its fullest — ‘it’s good living.’ That’s the mantra of this project,” closed Ritchie.
View Haus 5 will be open for a sneak peek (it's not done yet) on Sunday for the International Passive House Days tour. 12–4 pm, 208 25th Ave E.
Mid-winter is when bare root fruit shrubs and trees arrive at garden stores. Often looking like not much more than a stick sitting in a pile of sawdust, you might find it difficult to imagine the bounty of edible fruit that will spring from them. But if you look closely you’ll see the buds swelling, and in fact, bare root plants will establish more quickly and often perform better than their later-arriving cousins who have been bound in a pot and delivered in foreign soil. Buying bare root is also economical as you are not paying for the pot or the dirt.
When you pick out your bare root plants make sure the roots are neither mushy nor dried out. Dig a hole twice as wide as it is deep and spread the roots out. You’ll need to mound the dirt below the stalk of the plant to help it stay upright. Clip the ends of the roots just before planting, then water in. Be careful not to plant it too low. As it grows, it may sink in a little and you want to keep the flare of the trunk just above the soil line.
City People’s Garden Store has bare root blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, currants, as well as some rhubarb, Jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus. Bare root fruit trees include apple, pear, nectarine, peach, plum and cherries.
These days you can find fruit trees with a combination of varieties in an espaliered form, so you can plant one apple tree and get 6 varieties of apples!! There are also smaller varieties these days, perfect for container gardening.
And if you do end up looking at the bare root fruit selection at City People’s Garden Store, a portion of all sales will be going to the nonprofit City Fruit. The 5-year old organization collects fruit from residential trees throughout Seattle and distributes it to food banks, senior centers, and shelters — last year they collected 50,000 pounds of fruit. City Fruit also teaches fruit tree owners how to grow healthy fruit and organizes volunteers to care for the heritage orchards in Seattle parks. The nonprofit organization depends on grassroots support from the community and its business partners to do this work. Learn more about them at cityfruit.org.
Although the rains poured down just 30 minutes before the opening ceremony on September 15, a crowd of interested neighbors, officials, gardeners and Kiwis (the New Zealand natives, not the birds) came to hear the speeches and learn more about this grand new garden in our Washington Park Arboretum.
Luckily the warm rains stopped and the Maori dancers, scantily clad, sang and danced to open the gardens. This unique garden is designed to show seven distinct plant communities indigenous to the mid- to high-level elevations on the South Island. Although it is a plant museum of New Zealand native plants, it is also designed to show Pacific Northwest Gardeners new and exciting plants that are adaptable to our climate and soils. As the years pass, watch how they grow and behave in Seattle — maybe you will want to plant some in your home gardens.
Another feature of the garden that will be appreciated is its topographical design. Although planted on a steep slope with an expansive view down Azalea Way, the gardens are ADA accessible. There are ADA parking spots and gradual-graded gravel trails. Access by car continues to be open from the north end entrance of the road at the Graham Visitors Center.
You can read more about the New Zealand Garden in this article (PDF).
Red Tussock Grass
For over 25 years, the concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has been a way for consumers to receive locally grown, seasonal food in partnership with farmers. CSAs are a win-win for everyone involved. Small independent farmers receive dollars up front at the beginning of the season that can be used to buy seeds and stabilize their overall cash flow, while customers are supplied with fresh produce and other farm products on a weekly basis throughout the growing season.
We are fortunate to have access to many different programs in our area. A few of them operate on the traditional model where you receive produce directly from the organizing farm for the duration of the growing season, which averages about 20 weeks out of the year. Others are built with an extended infrastructure that provides products year round, but rely on an expanded network of small farms located in areas with longer growing seasons like California and Mexico. Once you determine which format works best for your lifestyle and interest, it’s easy to get signed up to receive your weekly produce along with other farm or grocery items that may be fulfilled by the CSA.
You can find a complete list of all the CSAs available in our area at Local Harvest.org. Following is a list of those who deliver directly to Madison Valley and surrounding neighborhoods.
Much of the CSA share comes from Full Circle Farm during our local growing season, and the rest is sourced from other CSA cooperatives located in warmer climates during the rest of the year. Fully customizable boxes come in 4 different sizes ranging in price from $22.95 (about 15–20 servings) to $44.95 (about 45–55 servings) per week. The weekly crop contains fruits and vegetables, as well as the ability to add many locally sourced grocery items that are delivered to a site host in the neighborhood. Permanent exemptions can be requested and you can review the order contents each week prior to delivery. The service allows for vacation holds to be made so your weekly share won’t go to waste.
New Roots is a year-round produce home delivery service that offers locally sourced products. The bins come in two sizes and range in price from $30–$40 per week. One is sized for singles/couples and the second is for a family of four. You can indicate whether you want to receive both fruit and vegetables, or only fruit or only vegetables. The service also allows for substitutions to be made, as well as vacation holds to be requested.
An Oxbow share provides 20 weeks of fresh, local, organic produce that is grown almost exclusively on their farm and harvested within 48 hours of delivery to Cafe Flora for pickup. The CSA offers 2 sizes: a family share for $630 and a small share for $420 per season. Additional subscriptions can be made to receive the following: a fruit CSA from Eastern Washington, a mushroom share, a jam share, and a sauerkraut share. If you are planning on being away on vacation, be sure to ask a friend to use your share so it doesn’t go to waste.
Tiny’s Organics, a small family-run farm located in East Wenatchee, WA, appears to offer the most versatile options. They can deliver to Cafe Flora or your home year-round or only during the 20-week growing season. The 6 different boxes associated with the two plans range from $19.95–$42.95 per week for 52 weeks, or $367 to $756 for the season.
The Goose and the Gander Farm
Run by two Columbia City residents, this 2-acre farm located in Fall City has begun offering a seasonal CSA this year. Boxes come in two sizes, a partial size ($360) and a full size ($540) and are delivered each week to Cafe Flora. Additional items from other farms and favorite local businesses, like the Columbia City Bakery, can also be added to each order. Vacation holds can either be donated to a food bank, passed on to a friend, or credited to receive an extra box later at the end of the season. Contact via email for sign-up information until their site launches.
City People’s is offering a wide variety of free gardening workshops in 2013.
Expert speakers will cover such topics as landscaping, pest and disease control, composting, and fertilizing. Also, there will be instruction in apartment gardening, the best techniques for year-round vegetable and flower growing, making hoop-houses and cloches, fruit canning, and even chicken farming.
Get thee to a nursery!