Japanese students help build a NEW school garden!

554894_566877722012_1982012613_nRecently, Sustainable Renton board member Elizabeth Zwicker was approached by a friend about opportunities in the area for a group of Japanese exchange students. Well, immediately she thought of the Sustainable Renton Community Farm-and all of the different projects that need help there. So we said YES, we’d love to have them for a 2-hour work party at the farm.

So, today, the students came to the farm to help us prepare garden beds for a school garden for the Apollo Elementary School (Issaquah School District), which is located immediately behind Celebration Church and the Community Farm. This Fall, we’ll be having a program to engage students at the school with gardening and growing fresh produce.


The exchange students are part of the States 4H International Exchange Program. Their mission is: “Enhancing world understanding and global citizenship through high-quality 4-H international cultural immersion and exchange programs for 4-H aged youth.”

Their volunteer time with us was part of the student’s orientation week before they head off to live with their host families for the year. They wanted to learn about volunteerism in American culture-they sure did work hard, and never complained. We really accomplished a LOT! All that hard work will ensure that local elementary students will have access to an organic garden, where they can learn about biology, cooperation, patience, healthy eating habits, and so much more.


To learn more about States 4H exchange, visit their website.

We are so blessed to be able to collaborate and partner with so many different groups, people, and organizations in our community.

And here are some photos of what is growing at the garden right now.




Meaningful Movie sheds light on Cooperatives


Once every quarter Meaningful Movies of Renton, in addition to our monthly movie, is combining efforts with Meaningful Movies of Kirkland and Meaningful Movies of the Eastside, with help from Meaningful Movies of Wallingford, for a showing of what is turning out to be timely topics. On July 25th we held the first movie in this joint venture. We watched the amazing 2012 film ‘Shift Change’. Filmmakers Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young were both available to field questions after the movie. What an intelligent and lively discussion it turned out to be.

The focus of the film was on worker-owned cooperatives and the impact that they have within a community. Cooperatives are making a comeback since the obliteration of our economic structure through what most people view as cooperate greed. Cooperatives offer empowerment to the individual because everyone has one vote and therefore equal say in what decisions are made within the company. Cooperatives are an excellent example of what democracy ought to look like.

Cooperatives also empower the community because the economic structure is such that job security is strengthened rather than threatened. Profit becomes secondary to the worker. Profit is important, for obviously there would be no company without it, but the profit is returned to the workers and the company, not into a CEO’s bank account.

The difference between a worker-owned cooperative and a worker-owned company was made clear from the film. There are upwards of 14,000 worker owned businesses in the United States. WINCO comes to mind. These are different than worker owned cooperatives, of which there are only 400 in the U.S. A worker-owned business most likely continues to operate as other businesses do, from the top down. The example was given that if all the workers at Boeing collectively bought all the shares for The Boeing Company, then it would be worker-owned, but the management of the company would stay the same, which is a top down hierarchical structure. However, a worker-owned cooperative has a business model that implements a lateral structure. No one person has more power in the company than the other. Committees and Boards are voted in by a democratic process.

Here are the 7 principles of a Cooperative:

  1. Voluntary membership.

  2. Democratic member control.

  3. Members’ economic participation.

  4. Autonomy and Independence.

  5. Education, training, and information.

  6. Cooperation among cooperatives.

  7. Concern for community.

For more information about cooperatives please go to this link: http://usa2012.coop/home

Co-op-Wordle1Sustainable Renton is working very hard at starting the Renton Food Co-Op. The idea came up last night that perhaps this could be a worker’s cooperative as well as a consumer cooperative. This type of cooperative is what is known as a hybrid. There was some mention that Olympia Food Co-Op operates this way. It will definitely be brought up at our next Food Co-Op meeting, which is Tuesday, August 27th at our office space in the Renton Highlands. Potluck at 5:30, with a general meeting beginning at 6:00. If you are at all interested in seeing how a cooperative can change a community come and be a part of making local history. We need a lot of help and would appreciate any input.

A little about Holy Cross Lutheran where the quarterly movies are being held. This congregation is dedicated to social justice through its efforts called ‘The Earthkeeping Ministry’. This ministry’s primary focus is on alleviating hunger and educating the community about food-How to grow it, preserve it and share it. They have an active educational component and have partnered with other local organizations to make their dream a reality, and what a beautiful dream it is. If you would like to find out more about The Earthkeeping Ministry at Holy Cross Lutheran you can find it here.

If you have never been to Holy Cross Lutheran’s beautiful P-Patch they have located on their property, you definitely should take some time to check it out. .

Now a word about the filmmakers of ‘Shift Change’. Their tireless and courageous efforts at talking about important social justice issues has to be commended. Since 1986, Mark Dworkin and Melissa Young, Whidbey Island natives, have brought us 22 films and counting. Topics covered are DNA testing, genetic engineering of food, AIDS, farm workers of Washington, politics in Central America, education, salmon health, human gene patenting, and more. For more information on their endeavors please visit www.movingimages.org

The next scheduled event for Meaningful Movies of Renton is on Friday, August 30th at 7 pm at the Office in the Renton Highlands (970 Harrington Ave NE, Renton 98056). We will be showing ‘Crossroads’, here is a synopsis of the movie:

Crossroads: Labor Pains of a New Worldview, is a documentary exploring the depths of the current human condition and the emergence of a worldview that is recreating our world from the inside out.
Weaving together insights and findings from biology, psychology, network science, systems science, business, culture and media, the film reveals the inner workings of the human experience in the 21st century, urging viewers to step out of the box and challenge their own assumptions about who we really are, and why we do what we do.
Crossroads places evolutionary context to today’s escalating social unrest, natural disasters, and economic failures. It illuminates the footsteps of an integrated worldview, penetrating its way through the power of social networks to the forefront of our personal and collective awareness.

The next collaborative meaningful movies effort will be held on October 17th at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, in Factoria. We haven’t decided on the exact movie but we know that the topic will be GMO’s. This topic is timely due to the issue coming up on the November ballot.

Mark your calendars, come and be a part of a group of people that want to make a positive change in our community.

As always, please like us on Facebook:

Sustainable Renton

Sustainable Renton Community Farm

Renton Food Co-Op


A colorful partnership: Greens for the Red House


Well, it is official. Sustainable Renton Community Farm is growing greens for one of the best restaurants in Renton, The Red House. The owner, Gene Sens, is an advocate for the slow food movement. His dedication to quality food has brought joy and happiness to Rentonites for decades. Along with being an advocate for good food, Gene is also an advocate for Renton and the local, small business owner.

A couple of years ago when Sustainable Renton first began, Gene asked us what we needed and we really didn’t know at that time. We had no idea then that we would be given this wonderful opportunity to have a community farm, but here we are, two years later with the most magnificent community garden and arm loads of bounty.

Gene and Frank Lucarelli, The Red House’s Chef, have been so gracious and wonderful working with us. We have made just three deliveries of Siberian Kale and Giant Red Leaf Mustard greens. So far, so good. When we made the delivery on Saturday morning one of the kitchen help said, with a big smile on his face, “I am really glad to see this.”  How happy could a gardener be hearing that their labor has made someone else happy? All gardeners are intimately aware of how beneficial and therapeutic it is to work in the garden, but when the harvest is benefiting the community too, all is well.

Thank you Gene, thank you Frank and thank you to everyone who has made the community farm a reality.

Our next move is a School garden, and we are looking into the possibility of a couple of goats. So exciting!

Any questions or comments please e-mail

Lara Randolph, Farm Manager larar35@comcast.net

Elizabeth Zwicker, Farm liaison linguisticnurse@gmail.com

Be sure to like us on Facebook.


Showers of Blessings

Through a contact at Seattle University, Sustainable Renton heard of an amazing opportunity. King County is preparing to develop the site on which 10 years of confiscated marijuana growing equipment is currently stored and not used. The intention is for the equipment to go to NGOs and community organizations but so far there has been little to no interest in the equipment. Since I’m with Sustainable Renton, Farm Liaison is my official title, I was also encouraged to take enough for myself as well.

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I was giddy. Skipping through the poorly demarcated aisles grinning like a fool and speaking in a excited squeaky voice I haven’t heard from my throat in a very long time, giddy. There MUST be gardening in heaven since it was man’s first job and brings me and so many others so much pleasure! I so dub this lot in Maple Valley a little piece of heaven.
Ballasts, electrical wiring, timers, light hoods, bulbs, air filters, AC units, CO2 generators and monitors, fans, ducting, bamboo, peat pods, buckets, fertilizer, water pumps, every possible piece of equipment you need for a greenhouse. Hydroponics, specifically, but I don’t have the setup or knowhow for that. What matters to me is everything needed for a standard greenhouse is here. And it’s FREE!
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Sometime soon everything will go in the dump to make way for bigger and better things. We don’t actually know when that will be but it’s always getting closer.
For a little perspective: one artificial light unit requires a ballast, a hood, a bulb, and optionally a timer. Around $250. I got 12 sets. Four for each greenhouse. Not to mention the fans, ducting, air purifying, timers, monitors, wiring, chain, hooks, bamboo… can you say, bounty? And we didn’t have time to grab or the room to transport the backup units.
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This is yet another example of how things are moving so quickly for Sustainable Renton. We can barely keep up with the demand for plots, the outpouring of equipment and gifts, the specialized volunteers, the potential grant applications, etc. We can’t do it alone! I am so happy to be a part of something that is such a need and a desire in my community but I won’t hesitate to say that we need more volunteers!  We need people to maintain the four beds under Sustainable Renton; two for the Renton Food Bank, and two for the Red House restaurant. People to come out in force for work parties; we have a mostly finished pallat board shed and half finished deer fence. People who can write business plans, grant applications, people with expertise and connections. So many people are interested in helping Sustainable Renton grow with information and things but we need right now is more people to help manage those resources.

After these bounties of blessings I relieved Chris Conkling at our booth at the Renton Farmer’s Market and spread the word of what we’re doing. Many people went home with little planted peat pots thanks to the friendly looting earlier. We filled up two pages of people wanting to be added to our e-mail list and had some very thought provoking discussions. I am really excited to see how those connections grow into something earth-moving. Maybe Renton-moving?… Nah. I’ll have to think up something more catchy.

If you are interested in being a part of this organization please e-mail sustainablerenton@gmail.com.

If you are interested in greenhouse equipment please e-mail Angie Sowell atdread.pirate.angie@gmail.com to arrange a pick-up time.

-Elizabeth Zwicker, Healthy Horizons Family Farm; Sustainable Renton board member.

Our Healing Garden


Hello farming enthusiasts!

Things are busy at the farm! We originally had set aside space for 20 plots-those have all sold! So, in the interest of getting more gardeners we have sacrificed the pumpkin patch space to make two more plots-one of which is gone already and the 2nd is being looked at this week. How amazing! If you haven’t had the time or made the time to come and take a gander at the garden it would be well worth the time to take a trip up there and see the magnificence that is happening. Someone described it as a healing garden. I just think it is pure magic. The gardeners are so kind and have a real sense of community spirit. One of our gardeners that just came on board is also a beekeeper and has made his delicious honey available for sale to us-yum.

On another super positive note we made our first official delivery to the Salvation Army on Monday morning. They have such a wonderful program there at the space off of Tobin. They provide a hot meal to the hungry every night of the week thanks to a combined effort from the local churches and other local organizations. There is no higher calling than to be of service to those in need and The Salvation Army really has their hand on the pulse of what is happening with those in need in the Renton area.

Sometimes it’s easy to indulge in less than ideal thinking; worrying about the future, the bills, the kids, etc. but when I visit a sacred place of service like The Salvation Army I am quickly reminded just how abundant my life is and how grateful I am to be a part of the solution that is taking place. Thank you.

Lara Randolph

Farm Manager



Meaningful Movies in Renton


For those of you that didn’t know it, Sustainable Renton hosts Meaningful Movies of Renton the last Friday of every month. This event is located at our office space in the Renton Highlands, and begins at 7 pm. Our purpose is to watch documentary films that focus on social justice issues. We follow these viewings with a community discussion about the thoughts and feelings that arise from the film as well as possible actions that can be taken in our local community to make a difference with the particular problem that we are talking about.

We watched a great movie this month called ‘Money and Life’. This is the third film in our series on the discussion of economics. The movie gave us a basic Economics 101 education for those of us that find economics confusing and downright unappetizing, and it also gave us an education of the history of this agreement we have made called ‘money’.  This agreement was originally made for the transfer of goods and services for the betterment of our relationships to each other and the local community we lived in. Like many great inventions, such as nuclear power or drones, the original intention is for the betterment of the community or the world, but the ultimate perversion has led us down a road to possible ultimate devastation.

The community discussion was about how we can live a more simple life, rich with healthy foods and relationships, but devoid of the pressure to “get ahead”. The idea of “getting ahead” comes from a sense of scarcity and there is no real scarcity in the world, only the perceived scarcity that we have instilled into this agreement we made, so that money has the illusion of being necessary.

I love the paradigm shift that our collective consciousness is in the middle of right now. The Arab Spring, the European Summer, the Occupy Movement have all worked together to create a global shift in how we need to live to make the life we have here more valuable and it has nothing to do with the acquisition of wealth. It helps that it is nearly impossible to achieve the so called “American Dream” anymore because we are forced to look elsewhere for our happiness.

We at Sustainable Renton believe that our local community is where we need to look for not only happiness but for connection. While everyone is busy being connected on their electronic devices we invite you to come and get connected with the Earth at the new Sustainable Renton Community Farm, or get connected with positive change and creating a movement with the beginning of Renton Food Co-Op, or to get connected with real issues and real people of your community at Meaningful Movies of Renton.

This is our city, we can make it what we want it to be-resilient, passionate, bountiful and beautiful.

Come and find out more how you can be involved with the amazing things Sustainable Renton has going on.


Lara Randolph

Sustainable Renton Board Member/Farm Manager