Archive for April, 2014

alaskan way garden
Updated: As I’m fairly sure all of you guessed, this was an April Fools’ Day post. I’m afraid ViaDuctTape® won’t be hitting the shelves anytime soon, and you’re probably not going to harvest zucchini on the viaduct. 
SEATTLE  April 1st, 2014
With Bertha the tunneling machine stuck ––leaving plans for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement stalled–– Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced today a new plan for the aging highway: Turn it into a giant raised-bed vegetable garden.
Mayor Murray, Governor Jay Inslee, and leaders from Public Health – Seattle & King County will work closely with the P-Patch program and WSU Extension to cover the top level of the structure in dirt and compost, then fill it with charming rows of tomatoes, rutabagas, cabbages, and other healthy foods. City residents may apply for garden patches of their own, and schools without garden space will be able to apply for plots, but anyone is welcome in the garden. Classes in yoga, pilates, and giant zucchini hoisting will be available to help keep city residents fit.

The lower level of the viaduct, which gets no sunlight, will serve as a waterway for salmon climbing upstream to lay their delicious eggs. This level is funded as a gift by the city of Nantes, Seattle’s sister city in France. In honor, the fish released on this level in April will be called les poissons d’avril. The Seattle Aquarium nearby will host special overnight trips for city residents to snooze aboard a raft on the lower level of the viaduct, as a new adventure-level part of the Aquarium’s Sleep With the Fishes program.

mayor with lettuce

“Seattle is proud to be on the cutting edge of bold sustainable food innovation,” Mayor Murray said, nibbling on some lettuce from one of the beds slated for garden transfer. “We’re building a food forest. We’re changing food deserts. Why not make a food highway?” And speaking of food highways, Mayor Murray added, new farmers markets will be popping up on I-5 in 2015, along the shoulder or on the grassy meridian. Drivers need only screech to a halt and pull over to buy some blueberries.

Alice Waters, founder of Edible Schoolyard and pioneer of the farm-to-school, farm-to-table, and farm-to-carpool-lane movements, hailed the garden conversion. “We know the Edible Schoolyard idea works,” she said. “Why not Edible Freeway?” If ––like the Edible Schoolyard model–– the idea spreads beyond Washington, a new garden network might truly become interstate. Indeed, East Coast and Midwest regions are said to be considering a similar plan, but are questioning whether large-scale garden conversion would take a toll on an already weakened road system.

Meanwhile, Seattle’s planned giant raised bed is raising some concerns even among sustainable food advocates. “Achieving food security is already an enormous challenge,” said a regional farmer, who preferred to remain anonymous. “But doesn’t building a heavy garden that might topple in the next earthquake give a whole different meaning to ‘food instability’?” Local activists responded to the question with three days of consensus-driven meetings fueled by gluten-free pizza and kale chips, the end result of which was an agreement to hold a three-day community forum, also fueled by gluten-free pizza and kale chips.

But Governor Inslee dismissed the concerns. “Local entrepreneurs have already devised a solution,” he said. Indeed, ViaDuctTape® will be hitting area shelves this month.

Stability isn’t the only controversial element to the plan. Members of the Yes on 522 campaign that tried to mandate labeling of GMO foods in Washington have spotted rows of corn growing in the distance in the plan’s artistic rendering. “Is that GMO corn?” a representative demanded. Meanwhile, the state cannabis growers association is considering placing a high-dollar counter offer for the space. Their campaign, called Plant High, is expected to be unveiled later today. And partners from Public Health – Seattle & King County have had to fend off attempts by soda and fast food companies to try to get involved. “It’s been ridiculous,” said a spokesperson. “The Coca-Cola folks were offering to provide millions of gallons of Coke to fill the salmon stream. But young salmon exposed to sugary drinks face a much higher risk of health problems up the stream. The only healthy swimming liquid for salmon is water.”

Meanwhile, if the garden plan goes forward without interruption, Bertha the tunneling machine will serve a new purpose: churning the tons of compost needed to keep the garden going.

For more information on this news story, here is the official announcement.

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