Garden Grows Hope for Homeless Youth

Formerly homeless youth are growing new roots while also reducing stormwater run-off.

“This is all the diseased stuff,” Keith Wolftail said.

Wolftail, 22, is learning a lot about life from gardening. A resident of LaBaTeYeh Youth Home in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, Wolftail often helps around the garden.

He is learning to spot the dying parts and remove them so new life can grow.

“Otherwise they’ll end up completely dead,” he said.

The garden at LaBaTeYeh Youth Home grows food for the transitional housing facility. The home specializes in helping Native American youth, who are seven times more likely to face homelessness.

“There are many youth with a history of foster care and history of being homeless for a long time. They come from families who are homeless or in poverty or are struggling with multiple barriers,” said Director Jenna Gearhart.

It’s why the garden is more than vegetables. It’s a place of identity and independence, and an example of a growing movement toward green infrastructure in urban areas.

“Having greenery around reduces stress, provides more positive self-esteem. I love that there is real tangible evidence to show that green infrastructure can do those things on a social level, on a psychological level, on an emotional level for people,” said Majora Carter, an urban revitalization specialist.

Carter’s work in the South Bronx and elsewhere has transformed concrete into community.

“All the things growing here, they’ll end up on someone’s plate tonight or tomorrow night,” Wolftail said.

The latest to sprout are several new rain cisterns. Thanks to a grant from five local rotary clubs totaling $14,000, the cisterns trap 6,000 gallons of water from the roof. They reduce stormwater run-off that would pollute local creeks.

“All of those things, when you add them up, that’s when they have the impact. The more, the merrier,” Carter said.

Wolftail says he’d be homeless if not for LaBaTeYeh, and he’s learning a lot, even from the vegetables that can’t talk.

“I’ve always set things back. I’ve always been like, I can do it tomorrow,” he said.

It’s the garden that’s taught him to plant seeds now. And then, watch them grow.

For more information on how to get involved in similar projects, visit

To learn more about available resources for rain gardens, cisterns and other green infrastructure tools, visit and click on the resources tab.

Copyright 2017 KING

Intersections – Green Infrastructure Summit 2017 Keynote Majora Carter

Majora Carter, a leading urban revitalization strategist,  will be speaking on the role green infrastructure plays in creating equitable cities and towns at the second annual Green Infrastructure Summit.

What: The Green Infrastructure Summit brings together diverse leaders from Puget Sound cities and towns, governments, nonprofits and the business community to map the strategic role of urban green infrastructure in our shared clean water future.

Who: Keynote speaker Majora Carter is a MacArthur-award-winning activist who has built a career working for environmental justice, creating and implementing numerous green infrastructure projects and policies, and job training and placement systems. The South Bronx native draws a direct connection between ecological, economic and social degradation. With her inspired ideas and fierce persistence, Carter brought the South Bronx its first open-waterfront park in 60 years, Hunts Point Riverside Park. Then she scored $1.25 million in federal funds for a greenway along the South Bronx waterfront, bringing the neighborhood open space, pedestrian and bike paths, and space for mixed-use economic development. Her TED talk “Greening the Ghetto has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.


When: Keynote Speech: 9 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 16

Where:  Mountaineers Club, 7700 Sandpoint Way NE, Seattle, WA

Learn More: Green Infrastructure Summit is presented by City Habitats, co-convened by The Nature Conservancy; Stewardship Partners, City of Seattle, and Washington Environmental Council. Website:


A Tale about the Swale on Yale

Block 11, located in the Cascade Neighborhood in South Lake Union is one of the next in a series of Vulcan projects slated to be certified under Salmon-Safe Urban Standards. Designed by Runberg Architects, the proposed development at 1255 Harrison Street will add considerable punch to the fight to clean up our waterways through public private innovation.

This 384-unit, full-block development includes the installation of the second half of the Swale on Yale, a joint venture project with Seattle Public Utilities to treat stormwater before it reaches Lake Union. The newest two block-long swales will be situated on the eastern and western margins of the development, along the Pontius and Yale Avenue sides of the block. The first half of the Swale on Yale was completed in 2013, alongside Vulcan’s former property, Stack House and Supply Laundry development, one block north.

Together, the four swales will treat stormwater from 435 acres of Capitol Hill streets and sidewalks annually. The Swale on Yale project works by slowing and capturing the stormwater in a diversion vault.

A primary design goal of the project is to create pedestrian-friendly community spaces by connecting with Cascade Park to the west and aligning with the alleys of the Stackhouse apartments to the north and blocks to the south.

Green roofs will be installed on top of the new building and at the first level. All other roof drainage, not captured by one of the green roofs will be directed to one of five bioretention planters, the total size of which exceeds the optimal size for this type of best management practice according to the City of Seattle’s green stormwater infrastructure guidelines. These features provide additional stormwater management benefits beyond regulatory requirements. Other strategies of the project which contribute to meeting the Salmon-Safe standards include native drought tolerant landscape design, on-site rainwater harvesting for irrigation; high performance irrigation and water fixtures for conservation and a commitment to Integrated Pest Management in long term operations. The contractor for the project is Exxel Pacific, a Salmon-Safe Accredited Contractor.

Family, Friendship and Conservation

On December 8th, the Stewardship Partners staff and Board of Directors met for our annual ritual of sharing the accomplishments and lessons of the closing year as we looked ahead to our goals for 2017. It is a fairly unconventional approach to a year-end wrap-up that is designed to let each staff member share directly with the board. Afterwards, as we gathered together in the office, we were collectively struck by how special the Stewardship Partners model is and how it fosters not only a sense of collaboration, but also family. We are drawn to this organization because our jobs are meaningful and our coworkers are people we look forward to seeing every day.

We have come together because of shared values around caring for the environment and a commitment to ensuring that our lands and waters are healthy, not only for their own sake, but also because we want to do our part so that people can reap the benefits of a vital landscape for generations to come. Our drive is ethical, perhaps, but it is also deeply personal. Each of us can trace our commitment to a specific time in our childhood either spent outdoors or where someone in our lives encouraged us to explore in some capacity. These moments made an indelible impression. We are shaped by the rivers, lakes, streams, bays, cities and adventures that defined our earliest experiences. We learned to care, to seek and to play in both natural and urban public spaces in ways that sparked a lifelong sense of purpose. Our people and our approach to inclusive solutions-oriented resource enhancement and conservation reflect who we are.  Stewardship Partners’ programs are as fun and engaging as they are powerful.

Join in our efforts – volunteer, donate, attend a workshop, buy Salmon-Safe products, build your own rain garden, adopt a buffer on the Snoqualmie River – you may find, as we have, that you and yours will be thankful for the experience.


Duke’s Helps Restore Habitat Along the Snoqualmie River

On Wednesday November 2
nd 20 employees from Duke’s Chowder House volunteered and braved the elements to help restore a quarter mile of fish and wildlife habitat at a historic farm on the Snoqualmie River.

The river winds its way for over 44 miles from the Snoqualmie Falls to meet with the Skykomish River just west of Monroe and is home to more wild salmon than any other river in King County. In recent years, the Northwest’s wild salmon runs have been under threat, with numbers hovering near 10 percent of their historical levels.  

 “We had fun getting muddy and doing a good thing for salmon,” exclaimed John Thelen, Director of Operations for Dukes Chowder House.

Stewardship Partners has been restoring habitat with farmers for 15 years in the Snoqualmie Valley and most recently developed the Adopt-a-Buffer program to connect and engage local businesses that “adopt” buffers along the river. Duke’s was one of the first area businesses to adopt a buffer.  

The watershed supports wild runs of EPA listed Chinook and Steelhead as well as wild Coho, pink, and chum. In addition to salmon recovery these plantings support bird and other wildlife and add value to the farmlands in the floodplain by protecting the land from extensive flood damage.

Stewardship Partners has collaborated with Duke’s for the past five years on northwest conservation efforts to increase awareness of the actions communities can take to keep our waters clean so wild salmon can thrive. Duke’s was the first restaurant to serve 100% sustainable wild seafood and was recently awarded the Smart Catch designation.

“This Valley has the potential to be the bread basket for the greater Seattle area both with its wealth of agricultural land and fish. We have worked with private landowners for a decade to ensure the survival of both fish and farms,” says Chris LaPointe, Snoqualmie Stewardship Program Manager for Stewardship Partners.

“Bringing local groups out here to see what is available to them further ensures the survival of both industries. We are so grateful for the support of area businesses like Duke’s.”