Harvest Mayhem! & More Sept/Oct Happenings


Now that Summer is passing, and Fall is approaching, Sustainable Renton is really kicking into high gear with the harvest season in full swing. We have a number of workshops, meetings, and events over the next couple of months that we’d love to share with you. We’ll be having our largest event ever this Sunday, September 15th-Harvest Mayhem. Read all about it and our many other events below. We look forward to welcoming you!

All events listed are held either at our office or the community farm.

Sustainable Renton office: 970 Harrington Ave NE, Renton WA, 98056

Sustainable Renton Community Farm: 11840 148th Ave NE, Renton WA, 98059


Sun, Sept 15 – Harvest Mayhem. Location: Community Farm. 4-7pm. This is a fundraiser and community potluck event, complete with gardeners and their beautiful friends and families. Entertainment includes live music with local musicians Ron Stilwell and Callista Salazar, and a raffle for items like baskets of preserves, pickles, and coupons to local businesses! This is a community potluck-please bring something yummy to share. A bonfire with s’mores will round out the evening. Come tour the farm, meet the board members and participating gardeners, play in the sand box, eat, and be merry! All funds raised will support Sustainable Renton and the Community Farm.

Fri, Sept 27 – Meaningful Movies: Occupy Love. Location: Office. 7pm. We will be watching the film ‘Occupy Love’. This film follows the Occupy movement over a year’s period of time and shows the lasting effect this movement has had and continues to have on political and social life. This event is FREE but donations are greatly needed and appreciated.


1009839_509327289173623_962192451_nFri, Sept 13 (TONIGHT!) – Seed Saving Workshop w/ the Urban Food Warrior, Caitlin Moore. Location: Community Farm. 6pm. Have you ever wondered what this seed saving business is all about? Caitlin Moore, founder of the Olympia Seed Exchange, will teach some basic seed saving skills to get you started saving seed in your garden or farm. She will cover basic terminology, techniques, and some in-field how-to’s in this two hour workshop. There will be a $5 fee for this workshop. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Thurs, Oct 3 – Soap Making Workshop w/Sustainable Renton Community Farm Manager, Lara Randolph. Location: Office. 7pm. We will make a vegetable base soap. Everyone will leave with a bar of soap to take home and enjoy. There is a $5 supplies fee paid at the time of event. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Date TBD – Winter Gardening Workshop w/ Cascadia Edible Landscapes. Location: Community Farm.


Wed, Oct 2 – Renton Food Co-op Steering Committee. 6:30: potluck; 7pm: meeting. Come and get involved in helping to plan and pursue bringing a locally owned and operated food co-op to Renton. Your energy and ideas are needed!

Thurs, Oct 10 – Sustainable Renton Board. 7pm. Our monthly board meeting to oversee the operations, management, and happenings of Sustainable Renton. We are always open to new input, and have space available for additional board members if you are interested.

Of course, you can follow us and our different projects over on Facebook. Click any of the following links to ‘like’ our various pages.

Sustainable Renton

Renton Food Co-op

Sustainable Renton Community Farm

Meaningful Movies of Renton

Harvesting community.


Wow. This has been such a busy time of year and especially busy at the farm. Cucumbers, beans and zucchini coming out of our ears with tomatoes hot on their tails, we have been given so much abundance that it is impossible not to stop and absolutely marvel at the gifts that this earth gives and gives and gives.

The farm is such a wonderful place to see what we can have if only we work together. It is a magical place of community and democracy. Everyone is heard and no one is denied. There aren’t any economic chasms or religious strife. There is no anxiety about the future, only pure enjoyment in the present, and a teaching that we are connected to everything and everyone. We are not isolates. We all play an integral part in the fabric of existence and we all have a duty to one another. That duty is to be conscious-to make ourselves available for connection to one another. How easy it is these days to whirl around in a fog of anxiety, feeling alone while we are desperate to find connection on social websites, having opinions about things, but taking no action towards changing the cause of our anxiety.

The farm is a place where action can be taken to build a sustainable space for all to enjoy. I say this as someone who feels anxiety from time to time about the future of things, followed quickly by a sense of powerlessness, but at the farm there is a sense of empowerment, a place where actions make a difference, a place where community gathers to work towards a common goal. It is a place that has a core value that is worthy of exploration.

That being said, it is time to plant for a winter garden. One of the benefits of having space at the farm is that we garden year round, which makes it great for planting perennials like asparagus, garlic and berries.

We are planning on expanding for next Spring, so if you are interested in reserving a space please let us know as soon as possible and come and help create that space on Sundays at 4 pm.

Organically yours,

Lara Randolph, Farm Manager






One of the many benefits of a community garden is…community! The most interesting people can become friends, and relationships that help facilitate learning and growth can enter into the everyday things that make life wonderfully abundant.

An example of this is: the other day, when I was visiting one of my new found friends, she suggested that we try one of her pickles from a jar she had been fermenting on her kitchen counter for a couple of days. Now, I have been curious about fermentation, and tried my hand with some kefir curds but those soon became so plentiful I had to stop for lack of people to share them with. Anyone who has harvested kefir curds knows this dilemma. I have also heard about the digestive benefits of fermented foods for years, but the only thing that came to mind was Kim Chi, which was not at all interesting to me-so I  just never investigated any further than that.

But, I had tried this friend’s fermented string beans a few months back, and enjoyed it, so I thought it would be safe and possibly satisfying. Lo and behold the fermented cucumber I tried was the single best pickle I have ever eaten in my life! It was unmistakably a dill pickle, but it had a flavor that rocketed beyond mere dill. Being a novice at spice experimentation I wasn’t sure what was in the brine, but my palette had never been happier.

Needless to say I got the recipe, and have a jar fermenting on my counter as we speak. If this works for me I will have an answer to the many cucumbers that are waiting for my attention.

A word about fermentation and its history: Fermenting happens naturally and pre-dates humanity, however humans took control of the fermentation process and have been using this method from as far back as 7000 BCE . In short, fermentation is the process of converting carbohydrates or sugars into alcohols and carbon dioxides using yeasts and/or bacteria under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.

This process is employed in the making of wine and beer, or for foods like yogurt and sauerkraut. The science of fermentation is known as zymology. Fermentation is also what happens during the pickling process however, with the common techniques of canning the fermentation process is ceased when the jars are boiled and sealed. With straight fermentation the process is halted when the jar is places below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. The jars are not subjected to heat or pressure, which allows the lactobacilli to remain in tact and give our digestive systems the some of the healthy enzymes it needs to function properly.

I am sharing my friend’s recipe with you, I am sure you can use whatever spices you like.

A note of caution: there is always a risk of botulism with the consumption of canned foods, so take care to not use plastic containers when making fermented foods and follow all directions carefully. Glass canning jars are nice and greatly reduce the risk of illness.

Fermented Cucumber Pickles

1 t. coriander seeds

 ½ t. ground black pepper

1 t. yellow mustard seeds

1 t. dill seeds

1 t. caraway seeds

1 t. celery seeds

9 cloves fresh garlic

6 dry bay leaves

6 T. Kosher salt

1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes

Dry dill heads & stalks

Take 1 quart boiling water; add salt & dissolve. Place 2 bay leaves, 3 garlic cloves & cucumbers in quart jars. Add 1 1/3 c. salted water to each of 3 quart jars, add 1/3 of combined spice mix, top off with fresh filtered water, leaving 1” head space.  Cover jars and shake to distribute salty water within jar, & make sure all veggies are still submerged. Place glass cup or custard cup into jar as needed to make sure all garlic and cucumbers are completely submerged.  Leave in dark, cool place for up to 2 weeks, checking and tasting as needed till pickles are as tangy as you like. When taste is right, cap tightly and store in refer or root cellar for 6 months or more, or till pickles are tangier than you like.

Happy Fermenting everyone!

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.




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



Community Farm Happenings: A Deer Fence?

Hey everyone! There is a lot going on up at the farm!


First, one of our fearless gardeners noticed that there were some signs of deer having a presence in our garden. When I first heard about the deer my mind imagined the worst. The carnage was awful in my imagination, but, when I was finally able to bring myself to go and see what actually happened at the beloved garden, I saw that the deer were merely grazing. They had taken a top of a sunflower here and a couple of beans plants there-nothing really to be too upset about. However, the deer now knew how delicious our bounty was and they would be back. Personally, I prefer to have a more laid back reaction to sharing with the deer and other critters. My idea is to just plant 20% more than you want and it won’t be an issue. If you happen to share some of what you’ve planted with the creatures that were here long before we were, so be it, however, I must succumb to the fact that we are in a community garden and not everyone is a food socialist, or should I say, not quite as naïve as I am. Some of our more experienced gardeners have paid “deerly” when dealing with these beasts before. So, to make a long story even longer, we have begun to construct an inexpensive deer fence. Thanks to an anonymous donation we were able to procure an abundance of cedar fence posts, most of which were 8’-10’ long. We were then able to find a ½ mile of electric fence wire on Craigslist, for a screamin’ deal, which we will space approximately 12” apart and run horizontally around the perimeter of the garden 4 or 5 times. This combined with some twine or nylon rope tied from the top wire dangling and swaying vertically, will create enough of a barrier in the not-so-great eyesight of the deer-seeming impenetrable. Deer problem solved, or at least greatly reduced.

A big thank you to Neal Poland, Ric Beard, Steve Randolph, Jim Doty, Niki Samek, Iver and Bonnie Poole for making this happen.

Also, on Sunday I was able to begin our Three Sisters Garden. This is an old Native American planting ideology that incorporates basic permaculture principles that nourish the soil. The idea is to plant corn first-we opted for Tom Thumb Popcorn, then, when the corn is 4” high, we will plant pole beans that will grow up the corn stalks and squash that will grow beneath to keep the moisture and nourish the soil. Here is a link to a planting guide if anyone would like to try it at home: http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/3sisters.html

If you are interested in working at the farm we have work parties every Sunday at 4 pm. This Sunday we will be working on planting a pumpkin patch-little sugar pumpkins and Jack-be-little pumpkins. You don’t have to have a garden plot to come and get your hands dirty!

We will also be able to harvest some lettuce for the REACH program pretty soon. Fresh, organic salads for people makes me smile really big!

A really big Thank You to Celebration Church for making this sacred property available to us. As a visitor called it the other day a “healing garden”, and it truly is.

There are a couple of plots left; if you hurry you can plant yourself an abundant fall/winter garden. We have year round gardening!

Contact larar35@comcast.net for more info or sustainablerenton@gmail.com

Pallet Board Shed Success!


WOW! I was absolutely amazed at how wonderful the Pallet Shed Building Workshop turned out. Not only do we have an amazing shed built out of Pallet Boards standing at the Farm site now, but everyone that attended the workshop chipped in to drive a screw, level a pallet, sturdy a ladder, or handle a skill saw.


Steve and Kelvin Randolph (The Randolph Brothers aka Double Trouble) made it look fun and simple all at the same time. They did a great job fielding questions and giving answers that were simple and logical-it was a very user-friendly workshop filled with all the information anyone could need to build their own shed-complete with hands-on experience too!

This shed was made with 100% recycled and donated materials. We were able to secure donations thanks to Eric DeShaw, Clayton Stiles, Mana Kashay, Jim and Debbie Doty, Steve Randolph and Commercial Building Maintenance.

I am absolutely overwhelmed with the feeling of how necessary community is to a healthy and fulfilled life. With that comes a renewed passion for the efforts going into starting our community farm. There is such a beautiful reality emerging up here in the Renton Highlands and I am so grateful to be a part of it.


Y’all ought to come up and take a look at how beautiful everything is here, also-we still have plots available! We are gearing up for some winter crop planting now so it’s never too late to get a plot and start the adventure of growing your own food. We have gardeners of all experience levels, there is plenty of help and information to be had so don’t be shy and come on by!

For more information please contact Lara Randolph at larar35@comcast.net or Sustainable Renton at sustainablerenton@gmail.com

Pallet Board Shed Workshop!


Sustainable Renton Community Farm is hosting a Pallet Board Shed building Workshop on Saturday, June 15th at 11 a.m. This engaging workshop will be held at the Farm property located just behind Celebration Church in the Renton Highland neighborhood at 11840 148th Ave. S.E.


Come join us as seasoned carpenters, Clayton Stiles and Steve Randolph, walk us through the steps on how to build a functioning and CHEAP shed using mostly pallet boards. Bring your tool belts and come prepared for a hands-on experience.

You may want to pack a lunch as the workshop will go through the lunch hour-and remember to bring enough fluid to keep hydrated in case the weather is hot.

You can RSVP at the Facebook event page.