Building Community Through Gardening

Guest article written by Samantha Poyta (P-Patch Community Gardening Extern)

Oun Yeav and Phoeurn Khim love to feed their community. For over 15 years, these women have been growing food in West Seattle for their family, friends and neighbors. And, in recent years, these gardeners have worked to build a successful weekly farm stand at the High Point P-Patch and a CSA program that delivers food both onsite and to Seattle’s north end. For Oun and Khim, to see a growing number of customers buying high quality food from their garden makes them proud. They love nurturing seeds to plant, harvest, and deliver to customers’ dinner plates!

Oun, Khim, and the other High Point P-Patch gardeners understand the importance of eating fresh, organic food. In fact, they view their work as serving the health needs of their community as many High Point residents are low-income and refugees and might not otherwise have easy access to nutrient-dense food. These gardeners hope to continue offering locally grown, organic produce to their neighbors so that the whole community can have better health!

Gardening has been therapeutic and a good stress relief for Oun and Khim. They both came to Seattle as Cambodian refugees, Oun in 1986 and Khim in 1990. Arriving without knowing the English language made it very difficult for both women to make connections. This changed in 2000 when they began volunteering at the High Point P-Patch and found that their knowledge of growing food in Cambodia enabled them to connect with their neighbors in a way that brought tremendous joy to them. Not only did the gardeners find a stronger sense of community that was previously missing in their lives, they also began to feel better physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Now, the High Point P-Patch is a place where many Cambodian neighbors congregate, eat good food, and help out the main gardeners on farm stand days.

Over the years, Oun and Khim have become master gardeners. In Cambodia, they mainly grew peanuts, cotton, corn, potatoes, black beans, green beans, and rice. While growing these crops required a high skill set from the gardeners, Oun and Khim say that growing food in the Pacific Northwest is much more challenging than in Cambodia. Whereas in Cambodia the tropical climate and longer hours of sunlight facilitate plant production, the High Point gardeners say they had to learn how best to monitor their garden beds to account for the shorter days, cloud cover, and constant rain in the Pacific Northwest. Over the years, Oun, Khim, and the High Point gardeners have perfected their gardening skills. The bountiful supplies of kale, spinach, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, potatoes, and much more from their gardens is proof of that!

In their own lives, Oun and Khim have seen how eating fresh vegetables has benefited them. Here is a healthy recipe from the gardeners that they make using produce they grow from the High Point garden:

Beet and Kale Salad

Serves 4

  1. Wash and peel bunch of beets, cut into large slices.
  2. Rinse and chop bunch of kale.
  3. Toss kale and beets with salt, pepper and oil (ex: olive or sesame).
  4. Roast beets for 45 minutes in oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Let beets cool and then mix with kale. Add additional oil for dressing.

You can also add sliced apples, toasted walnuts or goat cheese to your salad!


Seattle Department of Neighborhoods’ P-Patch Market Gardens are spaces where food is grown to sell onsite or offsite at stores, stands, farmers markets, or restaurants. Our two market gardens are located at NewHolly and High Point on Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) property.

The gardeners work communally and sell the organic produce through their Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) within our site and farm stands. The P-Patch staff work with the gardeners to develop and manage the gardens, along with selling and marketing the produce.

Learn more about P-Patch Market Gardens at our website.

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