Meet our Gardeners #3: Laura Sweany

Hello readers! Here is the next installment of getting to know the gardeners up at Sustainable Renton Community Farm. Laura has been an amazing resource throughout our process of getting the gardens at the farm started. She is a wealth of knowledge on so many topics of sustainability. She led our first official workshop at the farm site, and has been utilized countless times for consultation throughout this first growing season. We are blessed to have her presence.

headshotName: Laura Sweany

City of residence: Skyway

What do you do for a living? Urban Agriculture

How long have you been gardening? 20 years

How did you become interested in Sustainable Renton Community Farm? I have been an active member of Sustainable West Seattle and was delighted to find a local SCALLOPS group in my area.

What do you like most about the SRCF? The soil is AMAZING. Even weeding is a joy when you have such pristine soil to play in.

What kinds of things are you growing in your garden? The hot-weather plants I included are going strong this year: jalapeno, banana and green bell peppers, cucumbers (so many cukes!), radishes (especially the seed pods), dill, chives, cilantro/coriander, epazote, chamomile for tea, yellow and Italian zucchini, cabbages, collards, scarlet runner beans (when the deer don’t beat me to them), onions and tomatoes. Not many tomatoes. Late blight got almost my entire crop – I lost about 120# of tomatoes. But I harvested 40# of tomatillos, so that makes up for it a little.

What is your favorite thing to grow and why? That’s like asking “which of your children do you love the most”. Impossible to answer. Japanese cucumbers are fun – they yield over a long period and do well in cooler weather. This year they didn’t even really start bearing till it got cooler – early September. The jalapenos were a huge surprise this year – I got two BIG bowls full off of 6 plants. The collards keep trying to take over the world – that’s a lot of fun to see, too.

Do you employ a particular gardening philosophy? If so, what it is it and why? I grow using the principle of polyculture – many things growing together. No rigid rows or single-crop straight lines. So I have edibles, ornamentals, tea plants and herbs all in a riot of production. It confuses pests and minimizes disease, except in my monoculture of tomatoes. Once again, the hazards of monoculture become apparent, even in the small scale of our community garden. If you have one diseased plant, it easily becomes MANY diseased plants.

There is a waiting list forming for the next season of growing. Please contact:

Lara Randolph/Farm Manager



Renton Food Co-op has a Logo!

A big thank you to Kellin Holmes, a local Renton graphic designer, who volunteered his time and services to create the Renton Food Co-op’s brand new logo! This is one more positive step to help this project move forward.

RFC Logo Color






If you’d like to get in touch with Kellin for graphic design work, you can see his work over on his website. We are very grateful to Kellin for this beautiful image.

Socially Conscious Gourmet Dinner for 14!

Those of you that enjoy good food, good wine, good conversation, and supporting a good cause should LOVE this!


The Renton Community Foundation is having their Annual Online Auction *right now*. This year’s theme is For the Love of  Community.  All proceeds from the auction go the the Foundation to help them meet the ever-increasing need for services in the Puget Sound area.

One of the auction items is a Socially Conscious Gourmet Dinner for 14. This dinner features the culinary talents of the Red House Beer, Wine Shoppe and Tapas Bar kitchen, wines from local vintners Cedar River Cellars, and produce from the Sustainable Renton Community Farm. This wonderful evening is being auctioned for 14 people, who will enjoy a 4-course meal paired with wines. The evening will also highlight the exciting partnerships happening in our community in this emerging ‘farm to table’ sustainable economy.

What a great way to support local charities, enjoy delicious food and wine, and to learn about a sustainable local food system in action.

You can find out all the details and bid here.

Meet our Gardeners #2: Niki Samek

Hello everyone! This week the interview comes from a gardener who tried her hand at gardening at this capacity for the very first time.


Name:  Niki Samek

City of residence:   Renton

What do you do for a living?


How long have you been gardening?

1 whole season!

How did you become interested in Sustainable Renton Community Farm?

I’ve been wanting to try gardening for a long time but haven’t had the space for it.  It was a big YES! moment when Lara asked if I was interested.

What do you like most about the SRCF?

I love the peaceful feeling that comes over me when surrounded by such lush and beautiful new life and growth.

What kinds of things are you growing in your garden?

This season we grew giant sunflowers, 3 kinds of bush beans, spinach, broccoli, radishes, potatoes, bell peppers, strawberries, beets, amaranth, marigolds, sugar pumpkins, cucumbers, rosemary, calendula and carrots.

What is your favorite thing to grow and why?

hmmm….  the pumpkins were CRAZY fun to watch and try to manage as they tried to take over our entire plot.  Food wise, I loved having the ability to wander out and pick some dinner off of our broccoli and spinach plants.

Do you employ a particular gardening philosophy? If so, what it is it and why?

Sew seeds, and water, weed, love on obsessively, until I get busy and then ignore guiltily.   Occasionally throw some rabbit poop around to feed.  It has been such a wonderful experience to share in everyone’s enthusiasm and wonder at how miraculously things grow. The seed pod is genuinely one of nature’s many abundant miracles that provide us with everything we need to live wholesome, healthy lives. And to think, it didn’t come from a drive-thru window! Who knew? A lot of people know that, but in a busy world that keeps us from ourselves it is easy to forget that the earth provides us with everything we need.

Sustainable Renton Community Farm is a facilitator of remembering what a wonderful gift the earth is.

Interview conducted by Lara Randolph, Sustainable Renton Community Farm Manager.

We have a waiting list for gardening next season-if you are interested, please contact:

Lara Randolph/Farm Manager at or 425-228-0345

Or Sustainable Renton at