Seattle Parks and Seattle Tilth make healthy food accessible to all

Seattle Tilth instructor Veralea Swayne teaches Composting for Apartment Dwellers in Victor Steinbrueck Park.


It doesn’t matter whether you live in a studio, condo, dorm or house, Seattle Parks and Recreation wants to make sure more people have the opportunity to grow and eat healthy food.

For the past several years, Seattle Parks has partnered with Seattle Tilth to host free gardening classes in downtown parks. The classes range in subject, but many focus on apartment residents and teach people how to garden in small containers.

On Aug. 19, Veralea Swayne, a Seattle Tilth instructor, was teaching Composting for Apartment Dwellers in Victor Steinbrueck Park.

“I love being able to lead positive activities in our public spaces,” Swayne said. “People live downtown, work downtown, so it just makes sense to have classes downtown. It shows people they can grow their own food no matter where they live.”

Swayne has been teaching for three years and said the parks classes draw a variety of people including people who live on boats.

During the composting class, Swayne led the participants in constructing a worm bin that could easily be stored indoors mess-free.

“Worm castings are actually kind of magical,” Swayne said. “They’re a mild fertilizer that helps everything grow so much better.”

Seattle Parks concierge Stephen Wilson helped organize supplies for the composting class and said he enjoys the different groups that come into the parks to participate.

“These classes bring diverse people into the parks, and I love the lively, fun atmosphere,” Wilson said.

Brandon Neuhaus was one of the class participants. He lives in an apartment on Capitol Hill and said he’s recently become interested in growing his own food.

“I was researching classes and this sounded like an awesome opportunity,” Neuhaus said. “I love the idea of taking a class and having the backdrop be a park. It’s nice to be outdoors.”

Seattle Tilth hosts many free classes throughout the summer at Victor Steinbrueck Park and Freeway Park with support from Seattle Parks Center City Program Coordinator Adrienne Caver-Hall and funding from the Pike Place Market Foundation and the Freeway Park Association.

Seattle Tilth’s last class of the summer will be held from 5:30-7 p.m. in Victor Steinbrueck Park on Wednesday, Aug. 27 and will teach fall and wintering gardening in containers. To register, visit

Seattle Tilth is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire and educate people to safeguard our natural resources while building an equitable and sustainable local food system. For more information about their year-round programs and opportunities, please visit