Pre-Conference Tour: UpGarden

3:30 - 5:00 pm  |  1.5 PDH
300 Mercer St, Seattle, WA 98109
Presenters: Eric Higbee; Nicole Kistler


As the country’s first large scale rooftop community garden, the UpGarden P-Patch is an innovative and exciting new precedent in the movement to grow more food in our cities. Located on top of the Mercer Street Parking Garage at Seattle Center, the UpGarden converts almost 30,000 sqft of a fifty year old parking structure into a vibrant community garden in one the city’s densest neighborhoods. Constructed in 2012 largely through community efforts,  the new garden creates over 100 new garden plots for nearby residents and  features a re-purposed aistream trailer as the garden’s toolshed. The UpGarden received a 2014 Honor Award from the Washington Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (WASLA). Tour participants will learn about how Eric and Nicole collaborated with community members during several design workshops to generate a garden design and organize a volunteer-led construction process. They will also discuss the multiple facets of the garden's design, the technical challenges of the garden construction, and the lesson's learned after 4 years of operation. They will be joined by the current Lead Gardner, who will share her experience as an UpGardener, and talk about the garden's growing programs involving local schools and agencies.

Presenter Bios:

Eric Higbee is a licensed landscape architect and community organizer with extensive experience collaborating with communities to design and construct public spaces. He is currently the Design Director at the Pomegranate Center, a non-profit specializing in community engagement through participatory design and construction. Along with many grassroots community-driven projects,  Eric's decade of professional experience includes managing numerous local, regional and national projects at several Seattle area design firms such as Gustafson Guthrie Nichol and Murase Associates. Eric graduated with a Master in Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington, where he returns annually to teach a Community Design Studio focused on Urban Agriculture.   

Nicole Kistler creates interactive art and landscapes that help connect community members to places they live and start conversations.  She has over 13 years of experience managing large-scale public art, arts planning, public involvement, and landscape design projects, with work shown in Washington, New York, and Arizona.  She co-developed the award-winning plan for UpGarden, the nation’s first large scale community rooftop garden and was Seattle’s first Urban Agriculture Artist-in-Residence. She served as Co-Artist Director for Duwamish Revealed, an ambitious program of site-specific, public art and performance along and about the Duwamish River, and iconic industrial river in Seattle.  This builds on her 2006 project, the Living Barge, a temporary island of native plants arranged on an industrial barge moored on the Duwamish.  She’s currently creating a series of story-based cast iron sculptures for the Beacon Food Forest. She has a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from the University of Washington.