Church revitalizes its orchard, builds P-Patch

April 2, 2010

By Tim Pfarr

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Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Factoria — which has numerous members from Newcastle — has an orchard on its property that has lain dormant for more than 10 years.

However, in March, a team from the church joined with the organization City Fruit, which works to help grow fruit in urban areas, to start the process of bringing it back to life. The church also converted part of its back lawn into a P-Patch.

P-Patches are community gardens divided into smaller, private portions. The church’s P-Patch is about 3,000 square feet; individuals can purchase 100 square feet of space for $50 per year and 200 square feet for $75 per year. These fees cover the church’s watering costs.

Steven Ellis (left) and Kathleen Allasian (right, on tractor) help build the P-Patch behind Holy Cross Lutheran Church. At right, members of the congregation took grass from the field to make way for the community garden. Contributed

The church will also offer scholarships for individuals who wish to have space but who cannot afford it.

The orchard has more than 30 trees that grow different kinds of apples, as well as pears and plums, and church officials said they plan to donate the fruit grown on the trees to local food banks.

Among the members of the church who are helping launch the P-Patch and orchard are Janet Farness and her husband Rick Young.

“The goal is not only creating food, but creating community,” Farness said. “We have one of the only areas in south Bellevue that isn’t full of concrete. It’s a beautiful little orchard.”

Young said he is excited to see the church’s land put to good use.

“It’s wasteful to have the resource and not use it when people are hungry,” he said.

The revitalization process is still in its early stages, but some local residents have already begun purchasing space and planting.

Two users have actually purchased space with the intent of donating all food grown on their patches.

“It’s moving along quickly,” said Gary Dalenius, pastor at the church. “It’s grown beyond our expectations and it’s really wonderful.”

Join the P-Patch

  • Call P-Patch coordinator Jan Starr at 221-8544 or send an e-mail to
  • Price: $50 per year for 100 square feet, $75 per year for 200 square feet
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