I ran into Redmond's mayor, Rosemarie Ives, and her husband at the annual Derby Days event earlier this month. She and her husband had just returned from a trip to Boston where they took a “wonderful walk through the Fenway gardens.“ They couldn't say enough good things about the public gardens. I echo that sentiment.
I recently proposed that the Redmond Planning Commission consider adding the following policy to the Parks and Recreaton chapter of our Comprehensive Plan:
  • Develop and administer a seasonal pea patch for the non-commercial use, enjoyment, and edification of the residents of Redmond, especially in areas such as the Downtown and Overlake neighborhoods where a majority of homes have little or no garden space.

Gardening is a recreational activity. In the context of a public pea patch however, it becomes something much more. Pea patch gardening is a social, educational, and cultural institution whose value transcends generations and enriches gardeners as well as passers-by in countless ways.

<story>Several years ago, a father and his seven or eight year old son walked by my Pea Patch at Marymoor Park. The father asked me a question about some plant and the boy, standing between us, bent down, picked my largest and ripest strawberry, and at it with satisfaction.
His father snapped, "Johnny, you know better than to eat someone else's strawberries without asking. Now tell this gentleman you're sorry."
The boy looked at me beseechingly and said, "I'm sorry, mister. I didn't know... My a daddy told me this was a public garden." 
I explained that, "It is a public garden but my strawberries are private unless I choose to share them. I'll tell you what, since you're such a nice, polite young man, you can pick strawberries from my garden anytime. But," I warned, "you have to get up really early in the morning to beat the slugs to the biggest and sweetest ones". I added that he could grow his own strawberries in his own garden if his dad didn't mind.
The next growing season, I saw the boy and his father again. The father rolled a wheel barrow past me and said with a sideways smile, "Johnny wanted to grow his own strawberries this year. Thank you."</story>

A pea patch is and should be accessible to as many people as possible. No pea patch should be walled-off or "private". I believe that the best place in Redmond for a pea patch would be somewhere between or on the current City Hall site and the Sammamish River trail.  Why?  Because the site is central, sunny, has ample traffic, great sun and soil (I assume), plentiful water, and is only blocks from the greatest number of condominium and town house residents in the city.

Because pea patch gardening is such a unique activity, I strongly believe that it needs to be identified and dealt with individually in the Parks and Recreation chapter of our Comprehensive Plan. Establishing a pea patch for city residents will materially enhance property values in nearby neighborhoods, especially in the urban centers. I'm as surprised that we haven't created a pea patch program that dovetails with King County's once excellent program as I am determined to see that one gets started in the City of Redmond.

What do you think?