McIvor to coordinate Tacoma’s community gardens program

Kristen McIvor was recently hired by the Cascade Land Conservancy to be the new community gardens coordinator. McIvor, who started on Aug. 2, will grow this new position and help support the seven community gardens throughout Tacoma announced by Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland at the Spring Community Garden Summit at Manitou Community Center. McIvor will also serve as a resource for Community Gardeners throughout Tacoma at other sites such as Metro Parks Tacoma gardens and gardens throughout Pierce County to increase resources and skills for them to be successful and sustainable long term.

“The hiring of a community gardens coordinator is great news,” said Mayor Strickland. “These gardens can bring community members together, help us get to know our neighbors, and as a side benefit, help all of us work together to make Tacoma and Pierce County a better place to live.”

McIvor has a background in urban agriculture and urban soil, working with and researching the City’s biosolids soil amendment product, TAGRO. She was most recently with Pierce County teaching environmental education.

Pierce County’s ACHIEVE Coalition, a broadly based community initiative sponsored by the YMCA and the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, spearheaded the community gardens effort, making it what it is today – a program that provides gardening opportunities for the physical and social benefit of people and their neighborhoods.

The connections between community gardening and health are well recognized by local leaders. “Community gardens strengthen people and communities by providing venues to grow healthy food, develop social connections and create livable environments,” said Dr. Anthony L-T Chen, Director of the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.

ACHIEVE has worked with local leaders and stakeholders to develop a Community Gardens Plan with ambitious goals to increase the number of community gardens, strengthen existing gardens by providing resources, and increasing social capital, especially in underserved communities.

McIvor is excited to get started implementing the plan.

“Tacoma has a rich history of urban gardening, and Cascade Land Conservancy is thrilled to have the opportunity to support those efforts and expand the program to serve more of Tacoma and Pierce County,” she said. “Cascade Land Conservancy’s Cascade Agenda — a 100 year vision for our region- is built on the foundation that a broad coalition can achieve fundamental change. This program is a perfect example of how community members can get involved to make our neighborhoods better places to live, work and raise our families.”

The City of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and the Pierce Conservation District are the funding partners for this program.