Interbay P-Patch stewards Susan Casey and Ray Schutte observe three bee hives inside the Seattle park on Tuesday, Aug. 27.
Interbay P-Patch stewards Susan Casey and Ray Schutte observe three bee hives inside the Seattle park on Tuesday, Aug. 27.

Gardens are thriving in the Interbay P-Patch, a one-acre park with a three-year waitlist for people wanting to flex their green thumbs.

For those waiting to tend to one of its more than 140 plots, the Seattle park still has a lot to offer.

People are invited to come check out its bounty over a bowl of soup and under a new tool shed roof during a celebration at the Interbay P-Patch from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 2451 15th Ave. W.

The Interbay P-Patch was established on an old landfill site back in 1974, and everyone knew it would eventually be redeveloped for recreation, said longtime gardener and volunteer Susan Casey.

When a golf course was proposed to come in, the P-Patch was moved to the northeast corner of the landfill, the city council guaranteeing at least an acre through a 1980 resolution.

But then Family Golf Center realized there would be more money to gain from a north-facing driving range, said Interbay P-Patch co-site coordinator Ray Schutte.

Schutte said advocates proposed the current location to the president of Family Golf Center, and plans for the Interbay Golf Course were redesigned to make it happen.

“And that’s how we came to this corner,” he said.

Schutte said the P-Patch and golf course have a positive working relationship to this day, even when the occasional ball makes its way over the netting between them.

“It was a long process to get us here,” Casey said.

The soil wasn’t ideal when the P-Patch settled in its final spot in 1997, Schutte said, so compost parties were held every weekend for two years.

“That’s what brought the soil up to producing soil,” he said.

Recycling has played a big part in growing the P-Patch over the past four decades. A flagpole in the middle of the plaza came from Seattle Center, and the gates are repurposed restroom doors from Pike Place Market. Old vegetation gets chipped and returned to the soil to keep it healthy. The main plaza pavers came from Alki Beach.

“So we recycle,” Casey said.

“Just a little bit,” Ray added.

The award-winning tool shed/kitchen in the P-Patch was constructed using a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, which is the same program that chipped in more than $12,000 to replace the roof this summer. The P-Patch, which is maintained by its volunteers, had to provide $6,500 in sweat equity.

“We stopped counting right around $8,500,” Schutte said.

The new roof is a higher-quality and thicker polymer plastic that provides greater UV protection.

“The old roof has been recycled,” Schutte said. “It was carried away and used for something else.”

Gardeners claimed pieces for various additions to their plots, and a few panels were used to fortify the three bee hives inside the P-Patch. The honey produced is available to gardeners by way of donations that go back into maintaining the hives.

“It varies from year to year, depending on what happens,” Schutte said of the sweet payoff.

Casey said wasps tend to infiltrate the hives in the fall.

While the Interbay P-Patch plots are full, the one-acre park is a popular spot for employees at surrounding businesses to enjoy lunch. The Seattle Animal Shelter also uses the park for walking dogs, Casey said.

Casey gardens all year, and estimates she harvests around 500 pounds of produce annually. While growing fruits and veggies is what attracts people to the P-Patch, it’s not the most important thing to Casey.

“It’s probably the fourth most important thing,” she said. “The first thing is it builds community.”

Friday nights are for potlucks, and the kitchen area opens for soups every Saturday from April to mid-October.

“That’s a really good way to get to know people — by sitting in the soup line,” Schutte said. “I sample every one that comes in every week.”

Plans are to add pizza parties to the Interbay P-Patch by next summer. Schutte said fundraising has started to build an outdoor pizza oven in the plaza. It will also be used as a space for memorializing gardeners that have passed rather than with the traditional benches dispersed around the garden.

Following the Sept. 7 celebration, people should plan on showing up for a pumpkin party on the first Saturday in October.

“The pumpkins are given names, and then the kids pull a name out of the hat,” Casey said, at which point children are tasked with finding their gourd. “It’s a good family activity. We do have families in here, both large and small.”