Rooting the Community With New Outdoor Program


Elise Wang

After searching for and harvesting the vegetables, the children learn how to cut and prepare them.

No one can really cook a pot of soup from stone, but, in the heart of Seattle’s International District, the Danny Woo Community Garden was able to organize a Stone Soup Harvest Festival. Stone soup is inspired by the European folk story of stone soup, in which hungry strangers convince the people of a town to share their food in order to make a meal that everyone can enjoy.

The story exists to teach a valuable lesson about the importance of sharing. In varying traditions, the stone can be replaced with other common inedible objects—the folk story has different version such as axe soup, button soup, nail soup, and wood soup.

At Danny Woo Community Garden, the Stone Soup Harvest Festival was held on Oct. 30 as an opportunity to connect the community and teach youngsters about sharing. Like the original tale of the stone soup story, the festival was created as a cooking event which helped children, volunteers and participants of all ages gather around the community garden and cook soup with vegetables from the garden. Besides the vegetables harvested from the garden, there was rice, chicken, dumplings, tofu and vermicelli noodles.

Soup was separated into two pots— one for vegan participants and one for non-vegan participants. This event was of Tiny Tree Preschool system, the biggest outdoor preschool in North America region and one of the first preschool system to be licensed in the U.S.

In addition to the Stone Soup Harvest Festival, Tiny Tree Preschool also runs several outdoor events for preschool kids to teach them about the environment and the value of consolidation.

Eya Lazaro, a family service coordinator at Tiny Tree, spoke about why Tiny Trees planned the event.

“We planned these events within the community as part of our Decolonizing the Outdoors initiatives, and that project is funded by Investment Out For Kids by the county,” Lazaro said. “It is recognizing that there is a gap within the access to outdoors, so we would pretty much breach that gap so that more people of color, more people from a low-income background, and more refugees and immigrant families can access the outdoors through these events and eventually have them be apart of the Tiny Trees family.”

Throughout the events, participants had a chance to harvest vegetables from the Danny Woo Community Garden. All of these plants are observed and fed by elders who are taking care of the garden. There are plenty of vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, chard leaves, chives and onions. Additionally, the community garden houses around 10 chickens.

Most of the vegetables are washed after harvesting and chopped into small pieces before being put into the soup pot. Although mostly simple ingredients such as chives, zucchini, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms, these vegetables brought out impressive flavors and textures for the soup.

Talking about the Stone Soup inspiration, Khavin Debbs, a partnership manager of Tiny Tree Preschool, shared some goals of the event.

“The goal of the project is to get people outside in whatever way that is culturally relevant for them… community, some love, some positivity and some fun, and some people to have a good time,” Debbs said. “So doing something as a space like this garden is really rooting the community.”

The event was an opportunity for people of color, immigrant families and refugees to have a space for themselves, to have some fun and enjoy the stone soup.

The event can be an exhausting undertaking, but the coordinators still kept a positive attitude. Angela Patel, one of the event coordinators, shared how the coordinators keep their upbeat positivity.

“It is a generational connection piece,” Patel said. “We’re seeing gardeners together with the youth that we serve and the team program and other youth from the district— it is just energizing for a lot of the staff.”

The Stone Soup Harvest Festival proved to be a place for families and coordinators to share the pride of community building, and also support the youth in learning more about the power of consolidation. Harvesting organic vegetables, cooking with love and passion and sharing stories about the culture all make this event an instant savory hit.

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