At our annual event City Fruit Celebrates back in October, we invited a few of our community partners to share their perspectives on the work we do together to build community by sharing fruit.
Read the speech by Lizzy Chong Baskerville, the Garden Manager at the Danny Woo Community Garden below and learn how Danny Woo is not just a place where low-income immigrant gardeners can grow culturally appropriate fruit and vegetables, but it is also a place where they can connect to their home countries’ cultures through food, and create a sense of belonging by tending the land in their new home right here in Seattle.
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Hello, my name is Lizzy Chong Baskerville and I’m the Garden Manager at the Danny Woo Community Garden. Our 1.5 acre garden is in the heart of the Chinatown International District, right between I-5 and Jackson St. in historic Japantown.
As we all know, food is personal, and food is social. It can be our comfort, a reminder of who we are, and for immigrants, or children of immigrants, food can remind us our home, and where we feel a sense of belonging.
In the 1970s young Asian Pacific Islander Americans started the Danny Woo Community Garden because they saw that their neighborhood elders, who were living in cramped single room apartments, needed a place to grow their food.
Today, we have 75 low-income immigrant gardeners, mostly from China and Korea, growing fruits and vegetables from their home countries. We have a children’s garden where over 200 APIA and refugee and immigrant youth experience year-round connection to culture, land, leadership, and of course, food. We have chickens, and, we have over 60 mature fruit trees, primarily apples, Asian pears, figs, plums, and cherries.
I am incredibly grateful for the support of City Fruit. During a work party last month, we harvested over 500 pounds of fruit. We donated half of it to our local food bank- ACRS – Asian Counseling and Referral Service – which is the only food bank in Seattle that serves culturally appropriate food for Asians.
According to the American Community Census, the C-ID has the highest concentration of impoverished seniors in Seattle. The median household income for residents of the C-ID was $29,115 and city wide it was $74,458 in 2016.
For those of you following the large-scale development projects encroaching the Chinatown International District and the Public Charge Rule, you know that it is a frightening time to be both poor and an immigrant in this city and in this country. Now more than ever we are fighting for housing, self-reliance, food security, and community stability.
Having our own orchard that grows Asian pears and apples is about more than just food. It is about land, and about preserving a way of life and a community under threat. I want to thank City Fruit for their incredible support and partnership, not just of our orchards and not just our youth programming, but for our shared commitment to what is really supporting community control of resources, and community organizing in crucial times. I want to thank them for seeing the connection between land, culture, and community.
- Lizzy Chong Baskerville, Garden Manager