October 2015 Plant Profile: Cucurbita maxima

September 29th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

squash photoBy Sarah Geurink

Beautiful, packed with calories and vitamins, and easily stored for up to several months, winter squash is one of the most rewarding crops for vegetable gardeners to grow. One of our favorite squash varieties grown at the UW Student Farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture is Confection Squash. Similar to Crown Prince, popular in England, New Zealand, and Australia, Confection is a beautiful blue-grey, squat kabocha-type squash most notable for its incredible flavor, rich sweetness and texture, and edible skin. Confection squash is versatile, too—a perfect ingredient for savory soups or sweet pies alike. Note that Confection squash actually becomes more flavorful the longer it is stored, and will usually sit happily in storage throughout the winter. It is worth the wait!

Winter squash seeds should be sown in the spring, after your last spring frost and not less than 14 weeks before your first fall frost. Grow your winter squashes in a sunny area with fertile, well-drained soil with a pH between 6 and 6.5, and water your plants regularly. Confection squash is ripe when the fruit has taken on a blue-grey color, the stem has browned a bit, and the skin cannot be easily pierced with your fingernail. Expect to harvest 3-4 Confection squash fruits per plant.


Family: Cucurbitaceae
Genus: Cucurbita
species: C. maxima
Common Name: Confection Squash
Location: UW Student farm at the Center for Urban Horticulture

Encouraging Native Pollinators at the UW Farm

March 27th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

University of Washington graduate student Nicolette Neumann Levi is looking for ways to bring more native pollinators to the UW Farm. Nicolette recently obtained a $1,000 UW Campus Sustainability Fund (UWCSF) grant to help support the installation of several new native pollinator plantings at the UW Farm, Center for Urban Horticulture site. Nicolette is embarking on this endeavor as part of her thesis project as a candidate for the Master of Environmental Horticulture degree. Her funding will support the installation of a herbaceous perennial garden with plantings specifically chosen to attract native pollinators, as well as a pollinator hedge that will further provide food and habitat for beneficial pollinator insects.


Recently Nicolette had the opportunity to meet with UWBG curation staff and horticulturists to discuss plant choices, especially options that would be easy to grow and maintain while providing the most benefit to the pollinators. Some of the preliminary plant ideas include grasses, violets, trilliums, sunflowers, and irises for the herbaceous perennial gardens, and evergreen huckleberry and grasses for the hedgerow. The concept is to use all local, native plantings in these gardens to lower maintenance needs and avoid the requirement to directly irrigate.

Work on the project will start this spring with the preparation and planting of two patches at the north end of the farm for perennial flowers. Over the summer, Nicolette also plans to install plastic film to solarize the areas at the southern edge of the farm where the pollinator hedge is slated to be planted. This will utilize passive solar heat to remove pests and pathogens prior to planting.

Working with Native Pollinators

By planting exclusively native plants, Nicolette hopes to attract a wide variety of the native pollinators found in the Seattle area. “The idea is to use native plants to attract what would naturally be around the [local] area.” she explains. Some of the local pollinators she is hoping to see more of at the Farm include honey bees, orchard mason bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. While each of these pollinators have specific native plants that they prefer, Nicolette is utilizing a diverse palette of plants with blooming times staggered throughout the growing season to try to consistently attract as many pollinators as possible. “Overall it’s healthier to have a more diverse mix of insect,” she explains.

Nicolette is hoping that by bringing in a diverse mix of pollinators it will have measurable impacts on the Farm’s overall crop yield too. She will be measuring this impact as a part of her thesis work, as well as continuing to do frequent pollinator counts to see if her efforts are making a difference. Nicolette does have high hopes for the impact the perennial gardens and pollinator hedge will have on the UW Farm:

“Many farms will have to bring in on a yearly basis a box of bees. By trying to attract the native pollinators you don’t have to do that and spend all that money every year. You can maintain the populations and have a place for them to overwinter. It saves money.”

Not only will the plants in the garden and hedge provide pollen for the pollinators, they will also be chosen to support these beneficial insects in their various life-stages (i.e. larval, such as a caterpillar) and provide food, habitat, shelter, and hiding for adults. The hope is that these new plantings will also provide over-wintering habitat for the pollinators so that the Farm can start to grow a larger base population of pollinators right where they need them

A Network of Green Spaces

One of the challenges facing pollinators today, especially in urban areas like Seattle, is habitat fragmentation and the loss of green spaces. An exciting possible benefit of this project is its ability to provide a vital patch of habitat, for many types of pollinators, right in the heart of the University District. “The flight range or movement [for pollinators] between different patches is not so big, so you end up with these isolated patches,” Nicolette explains. “You miss out on the opportunity to have pollinators moving through a mosaic of habitat patches. Having one more pollinator garden adds one more place for the population to move to and grow”.

Pollinator Garden

National groups such as the Pollinator Pathway and the Xerces Society are working to bring awareness to the importance of habitat patches and are focused on promoting more urban gardens with plantings tailored towards the needs of native pollinators. Home gardeners can get involved too and help to provide vital habitat patches by fine-tuning their own growing spaces to meet the needs of more pollinators. Nicolette recommends that home gardeners, “try to use plants that would naturally be growing [in our region] and blooms that are in a variety of colors.” She also encourages, “using plants that bloom at different times during the growing season,” to consistently attract pollinators throughout the season. Bee boxes, such as those made for mason bees, could be something a home gardener could use.

The most important thing is to make sure that the plants chosen match up well with the needs of our local pollinators. Starting with native plants is a good place to begin, but Nicolette also recommends checking with your local nursery or gardening outreach program (like the Center for Urban Horticulture) to get more ideas and guidance with setting up your own pollinator garden.

The Elisabeth C. Miller Library has a list of recommended books on Pollinators and Pollination.

Last Week of Grow the Farm Crowdfunding Initiative

March 4th, 2015 by Jenelle Clark

UWFarm-winter-2015Recently, the UW Farm embarked on an exciting crowdfunding initiative to help expand and improve their facilities this year. Through the site USeed, the UW Farm is hoping to raise enough funds during their current campaign to:

  1. Build additional hoop-style greenhouses
  2. Build a better wash station
  3. Build a cob oven and install a new shelter at the Center for Urban Horticulture

The crowdfunding initiative is already off and running, so by joining in with your donation you can help to ensure that the UW Farm meets these goals, thereby bringing greater awareness of sustainable food production and educational opportunities to both the UW community and to Seattle. Visit the initiative at USeed today to learn more about the Farm’s current impact and future goals, and to lend your support to the UW Farm this year.

Announcing a Crowdfunding Campaign to Grow the UW Farm

February 10th, 2015 by UWBG Communication Staff

The UW Farm has launched a USEED crowdfunding campaign with the goal of raising $9,000 to build a new cob oven and structure, a new wash station, and reusable and portable hoop houses. These projects will build on the capacity of the UW Farm, increase their educational opportunities, and give them an amazing space to gather for pizza bakes and community gatherings.

UW Farm at CUH

Based at the Center for Urban Horticulture, the UW Farm is a student-driven urban farm that inspires students to think critically about our food system, while also providing them a physical space to experiment and learn about urban agriculture. Please help us GROW!

USEED@UW is a powerful tool for fueling initiatives through crowd-sourced philanthropic giving. It provides a platform in which people can partner with the University on any number of projects and share the news with their friends, family and colleagues. Together, we can provide a dynamic learning environment and embrace the spirit of discovery, innovation and community involvement at the heart of the UW.

UW Farm opens produce stand on Fridays

August 28th, 2014 by UWBG Communication Staff

Beginning Friday, August 29, the UW Farm will be partnering with UW Transportation Services to set up a weekly farm stand on the Burke Gilman trail on Fridays 3-5:30pm. The stand will be located just across the trail from the Husky Grind at the Mercer Court apartments.

Get your fill of fresh, hyper-local lettuce, kale, chard, heirloom tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini, summer squash, cucumbers, turnips, radishes, beans, tomatillos, herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, lavender), mustard, garlic and more!


The UW Farm is a campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and sustainability. It is an educational, community-oriented resource for people who want to learn about building productive and sustainable urban landscapes. All proceeds go towards sustainable farming education and student development.

UW Farm Stand – Just in time for Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2013 by UWBG Communication Staff

uw farm logoStop by the UW farm stand this Wednesday for freshly harvested leeks, beets, carrots, greens, herbs, and more, perfect for a locally-grown Thanksgiving dinner.

10am to 3pm Wednesday, November 27

Center For Urban Horticulture – Merrill Commons

UW Farm Website
UW Farm on Facebook


cuh map

Merrill Commons is the greenhouse attached to Merrill Hall at the Center for Urban Horticulture


GROW participants visit CUH and the UW Farm

June 3rd, 2011 by Barbara Selemon

May Fieldtrips

Chickens made a big impression

The two days that GROW high school students visited CUH and
the UW Farm were full of sunshine. Students from Susan Barth’s horticulture class at Nova High School and students from Jessica Torvik’s horticulture/ecology classes were introduced to resources for their GROW projects through scheduled tours and activities. Maggie Roses’ science classes from Ingraham focused on working with Lisa
Haglund and Patrick Mulligan on the site prep and plant installation in the
newly restored storm water garden at CUH.

Lisa Haglund is an undergraduate in Community, Environment and Planning
and has taken on the redesign and installation of part of the storm water
garden at CUH.   For most students this was their first visit to the Center for Urban Horticulture.  A main function of the GROW program is to engage high school students with the UW Botanic Gardens through the environmental education department at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Ingraham students work with UW students and staff at CUH

These field trips provided an opportunity to interact with faculty, students and staff and see how outdoor research is conducted and how undergraduates are engaged through projects and farm education at the university.  They also could take back new knowledge and ideas in constructing their school gardens.

CUH tours and activities

Tours led by Restoration Ecologist Dr. Kern Ewing and gardener, Annie Bilotta, introduced them to research and display of plants found at  CUH. Nathan Hale students toured UBNA for 1 1/2 hr., learning about native grasses versus introduced grasses, the benefit of shading to minimize invasive weed species, the survival of oaks post fire and where and how native prairie species thrive.  Annie introduced them to the variety of plants demonstrated in the rain, fragrance and Soest gardens.

Nathan Hale students get a lesson in UBNA

Nova students were introduced to Rare Care and the Miller Seed Vault by Wendy Gibble. After a mere few minutes in the vault, the students were eager to get back outside to a warmer environment. Miller Librarians Carrie Bowman and Tracy Mehlin gave overview tours of the library and a few students came away borrowing books from the loaner collection.

Interaction with UW undergraduates

While all students spent a small portion of the visit helping Lisa Haglund prep the site for the storm water garden, Ingraham students made this the focus of their trip to CUH.  Not having a site on their school grounds to implement their own rain garden, they were bussed to CUH for a day of helping Lisa and Patrick work on her senior project.

Ingraham students help remove sod from stormwater site

Using shovels and Hori Horis to remove sod, students assisted in the clearing of unwanted weeds and grass prior to the installation of selected native plant species to be planted in the deep depressions that collect storm water runoff.

UW students from Lily Nash's class serve up lessons to Nathan Hale students

UW Farm students led Nova and Nathan Hale students on tours and students from Lilly Nash’s class led interactive sessions on soil structure, permaculture, plant identification (treasure hunt) and chicken farming to Nathan Hale students.  There was high adventure when one chicken escaped being held by a Nova student and fled far beneath a spiny holly hedge. Luckily, the UW farm student was practiced in rounding up chickens and getting them safely back to their coop. More than anything else, the chickens impressed the students and I heard pleas for the teachers to allow chickens at their schools.

Nova students learn how to grab and move chickens

Benefits of Field Trips

Funding that was provided through the GROW program enabled Ingraham and Nathan Hale students to visit the university. A major obstacle in having high school students participate in environmental learning with the UW Botanic Gardens is transportation and time away from classes. The teachers were thankful to have their students learn outside of the classroom and their students got to view actual research sites, learn about seed saving techniques, interact with undergraduates at the UW (senior project, farm student lessons) and discover the Miller Library loan system.  For the UW Botanic Gardens, the reward may be the lure of future students interested in restoration, conservation, ecology and/or horticulture.


Nova students learn about soil structure

Students view the cobb oven used by UW farm students to make pizza