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Alleycat Acres ' newest and biggest urban garden site could be furnished with shipping containers, if ideas floated at a design charette this week come

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Alleycat Acres Plans New Farm in Central District

ftc_seattle_alleycat1.jpg
Alleycat Acres' newest and biggest urban garden site could be furnished with shipping containers, if ideas floated at a design charette this week come to fruition.

The two-year old organization -- which focuses on turning unused private land into community farms (and emphasizes using bikes equipped for trailers for all farm-related errands, such as delivering harvested produce to food banks) -- recently acquired a quarter-acre in the Central District from a longtime property owner struggling to pay his tax bill. In exchange for the plot, Alleycat Acres is assuming his property tax burden.

"It's going to be pretty amazing," steering committee member Scott MacGowan says. "We're talking about shipping containers with green roofs for tool sheds. We need an area to keep our tools, and shipping containers are just cool. They'll bring a lot of good attention to the site."

Alleycat Acres has already designed two urban farms, but MacGowan stresses there's no Alleycat template for landscaping; committee members work with neighbors to develop a plot that best serves the surrounding community. Although the area near Cherry Street and MLK Way is already served by a P-Patch garden, MacGowan believes the collective approach promoted by Alleycat Acres makes more sense than dividing up a tract.

"P-Patch gives people the option of turning (the garden) into a community garden, but it's complicated," MacGowan says. "It's easier to be like 'this is my space', but, as a culture, we're going to have to share. We have to all start working together."

The group next month is hosting a bike ride to raise money for the MLK project. Seventy riders have already committed to pedal from Seattle to a farm in Auburn, but MacGowan is hoping to double the number of registrants. Additional funds would allow Alleycat Acres to hire a director and purchase land, he says.

"I think there are more people out there that have land," MacGowan says, pointing out the situation which befell the MLK property owner is unlikely to be unique in the current economy. "The awesome thing for him is he can come back and see this instead of a big, fancy apartment building."

The first MLK urban farm work party is scheduled for mid-March.

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