Mother Earth News Fair – Win a weekend pass!

Here is a great opportunity to help out Sustainable Renton and win tickets to a fantastic event!

We would like to see our website and blog filled with interesting, fresh ideas about sustainable living in Renton. But we don’t just want to read blog entries from our board-we want too hear your voice as well!

So, to encourage you to contribute to our blog, we are having a contest. Every blog submission we receive via email will give the author an opportunity to win two weekend passes to the Mother Earth News Fair, held June 2nd/3rd at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. This Fair is a fun-filled, family-oriented sustainable lifestyle event.

Here are the details: Submissions are due by Friday, May 18th. The Sustainable Renton board will choose the most creative, interesting, or informative blog submission to win the tickets. Winners will be notified by Friday, May 25th. Prize is valued at $50. Each submission should include a name, email, and phone number. Submissions should be emailed to: Accompanying photos for each blog piece are encouraged and should be attached to the email in jpeg format.

But even though only one entry will win the tickets, all entries will be posted on our blog over the course of the summer. Submissions of course are subject to editing and verification of accuracy.

To find out more information about the fair, visit the Mother Earth News website:

Thank you!

Seed Starting Adventure in Renton

I like to think of myself as a novice gardener as I have grown many plots of vegetables over the years, done quite a bit of canning and mostly had terrific success but one area I was not so good at was starting plants from seed.  Since I currently live in the Puget Sound area (cold), it is essential to either purchase some plants that are well established or limit the variety in the garden to seeds that can thrive in our colder weather or just plant later when it’s warm enough and hope for the best.

I wanted to learn seed collection and seed starting as my partner and I will be moving to Mexico eventually and it is hard to get seeds of good quality so, collecting my own must be learned.  However, once I have the seeds I need to be able to grow plants with them, right?

A workshop was attended which was sponsored and taught by Lara of Sustainable Renton, and Caitlin of Urban Food Warrior on Seed Starting techniques.  I was so excited to learn what I was doing wrong all these years so I could correct my actions.

It turns out that I did was not using enough light, nor was I using the right soil mixture.  Caitlin had this neat little portable green house that she made from a large clear plastic bin, a lid made from plywood, 3 florescent light fixtures with the right bulbs, seed starting trays, a small fan and a timer.  I made one a few days later and it turned out great!  I got bulbs that are 4000k on the color temperature scale.


I got organic seed starting mixture, wet it down and followed the depth chart listed on the seed packages…filled my little trays with soil mixture and planted my seeds.  The lights were kept on for 19 hours and off for 5 using the timer.  The seeds do not need fertilizer until they pop up and start growing, then I used liquid worm tea mixed with water (I also compost my food waste using red wrigglers) to feed my little babies.  The small fan was placed on top aiming into one of the handle openings on my sheet of plywood so the air could circulate inside.

After 5-7 days, my seeds began sprouting wildly!  The stems are thicker and only a few of the plants have died after I transplanted them to larger containers.  Now, I have several tomatoes, beets, onions, bunches of cilantro, broccoli, etc.  After a few more weeks inside, I will move them to the great outdoors.  This is an exciting adventure and a major turn for my gardening skills. Looking forward to harvest!


Thinking big-a Renton community farm?

21 Acres

Today I was invited to speak at the Board meeting for the Renton Community Foundation on behalf of Sustainable Renton and our work around community gardens, education, and supporting a healthy, local food system. They are currently looking at different ways of addressing issues surrounding hunger in our community. The Foundation is an important supporter of local non-profits and charities in our community, and I felt privileged to be able to speak with them.

While speaking with the Board, there were conversations around the impact community gardens have on a community, how livestock and poultry fit into the picture, and how education is a pivotal piece in people eating healthier lifestyles. I shared with them the inspiring story of 21 Acres ( 21 Acres, located just outside downtown Woodinville, is an agricultural and environmental learning center that has a community garden, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), a community food kitchen, classes on sustainability, and a farmer’s market.

This got me to thinking-What would a center like this look like in Renton? Would it have livestock-like chickens or goats or rabbits? Would it have a community garden? How about a community food kitchen? What about a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)? How about a meeting space for classes on gardening, canning, food drying, cooking with vegetables? The possibilities for creating an inspiring, community-building center like this are limitless.

A bigger question is: what would it take to make this happen? Who are the stakeholders in a project like this? Could partnerships with the Salvation Army Food Bank, King County Conservation District, and other local organizations pull together a project of this scale? Is there land available to support a farm of this nature in our suburban town?

What are your thoughts? How would you like to be involved with a sustainable community model like 21 Acres in Renton? Please share your thoughts!

Let’s see where this idea takes us.

-Chris Conkling

Welcome to our new blog!

Cedar River


We are launching a new blog for Sustainable Renton that will also function as our organizational website as well.

This is the place to come to find out about upcoming events in our community, to learn more about projects we are working on, to get inspired by new ideas related to sustainability, and more.

Of course-we welcome your involvement and feedback. If you would like to contribute a blog entry for us, let us know. You are also encouraged to comment on articles and blog entries, and share on Facebook and other social networks.

Come back soon-We’ll be updating this site very soon with upcoming events and other announcements.

Thank you for your support!