We did it! Sustainable Seattle celebrated the installation of five new rain gardens, through its Sustainable Rain program. This important milestone means we have demonstration gardens at businesses and organizations in the Central District, White Center, West Seattle, and two different locations in Beacon Hill.
We want to thank our participating organizations who came to us asking to participate and worked patiently with us on this new project. Our participants include Big Al Brewery in White Center, whose rain garden now sits next to their outside beer garden area. In Beacon Hill, we installed rain gardens at El Centro de la Raza, a Latino cultural center and Helen B Ratcliff, a woman’s transitional prison facility. Green Plate Special, an educational garden and cooking project in a vacant lot in the Central District, now has a rain garden to treat the runoff from the kitchen they hope to build soon, thanks to Sustainable Rain. And in West Seattle, Alexandria Melchior warmly embraced her rain garden for her newly renovated yard at her residence and business property.
A look at 2 of the Rain Gardens
Helen B. Ratcliff House: The first organization to “sign up” for Sustainable Rain was the Helen B. Ratcliff house in Beacon Hill. This facility, run by Pioneer Human Services, serves as transitional facility for women leaving prison and preparing for independent life. With a large lot and many residents strongly interested in gardening, Douglas Jans, the director of the facility at the time, thought a rain garden project would be a great fit. Fortunately, the property was well suited for a rain garden, with unused level land situated right next to the parking area. Rain Dog Designs excavated the site and Amanda Bailey from Homegrown Organics designed the plans for planting. Residents and staff from the facility enthusiastically planted the garden on our volunteer planting day. Now, the residents continue to maintain the garden beautifully.
El Centro de la Raza: When Sustainable Seattle approached El Centro de la Raza and asked the director if she would be interested in a rain garden on their site, It just so happened that the Latino cultural center, was in the midst of redesigning their outdoor space and green infrastructure was part of that plan. Sustainable Rain seemed like a perfect fit. Since the building is so large, we planned to treat runoff from a rain gutter draining a small entry on the west side; the other rain gutters handled volumes of water too large for the size of rain garden El Centro’s property could accommodate. In addition, the rain garden needed to be a shade garden due to site and use constraints.
Since its installation, this rain garden has become well-loved and appreciated by the El Centro community. It has also been the focal point for a meeting of local green infrastructure professionals (GrIP). The Seattle Public Utilities RainWise program held a contractor training here, installing a cistern in connection with the existing rain garden. Recent plumbing work disturbed the area. Combined with the shade, this disturbance has proved challenging for plant survival. With plant donations from the King Conservation District, the garden was brightened up for the fall. El Centro and the gardener for the University of Washington’s Caesar Chavez gardens on site are committed to maintaining and improving the site.