Seattle’s Rainier Community Center Garden Wins the 2024 Toro Urban Park Innovation Award

Seattle’s Rainier Community Center Garden Wins the 2024 Toro Urban Park Innovation Award

Seattle’s Rainier Community Center Garden Wins the 2024 Toro Urban Park Innovation Award
$50K grant to support innovation in urban food systems and workforce development


Washington, DC (March 12, 2024) – Today, the City Parks Alliance and The Toro Company, a leading global provider of solutions for the outdoor environment, announced that the Rainier Community Center’s new urban garden in Seattle is the recipient of the 2024 Toro Urban Park Innovation Award. 

Sponsored by The Toro Company in partnership with City Parks Alliance, the Toro Urban Park Innovation Award recognizes innovation in park management and practices. Recipients receive a $50,000 grant in support of their respective project. 

The award will be presented at Greater & Greener 2024, City Parks Alliance’s biennial international urban parks conference, held June 21- 25 in Seattle.

Seattle Parks & Recreation partners with local organizations to create gardens at community centers throughout the city, which serve as mini urban farms. The Rainier Community Center Garden’s urban farm model will help inform future Seattle Park and Recreation’s urban food system projects with the potential to be replicated nationally and internationally. Currently, the neighboring BIPOC community does not have any spaces for community members to grow their own food. Garden projects such as this ensure residents have access to public land to produce locally grown, nutritious food for their community. The project will support local community members in gardening and producing foods that express their cultural and ethnic values. Gardening techniques will be informed by the gardener’s cultural practices, and the foods grown will include foods that are part of the gardeners’ ethnic traditions.

“The Toro Company is proud to recognize the Rainier Community Center Garden project as the recipient of the Toro Urban Park Innovation Award,” said Marnie Wells, President of The Toro Company Foundation. “The project exemplifies innovation by prioritizing the values of the community and incorporating the cultural and ethnic practices of its residents. Beyond delivering healthy, locally sourced food, it also champions workforce development and the education of future generations. The Greater & Greener conference is the ideal venue to showcase innovative solutions for urban parks with practitioners from across the globe.”

“The Rainier Community Garden project showcases how parks are vital components of strong neighborhoods and resilient cities. It supports the values and cultural practices of BIPOC communities, ensures food security, grows the environmental workforce, and creates positive community green spaces. We’re excited to support this project and to showcase it, along with many other Seattle success stories, at the Greater & Greener conference this June,” said City Parks Alliance Executive Director Catherine Nagel

Turf Star Western, Toro’s local distributor that serves the Seattle market, played a valuable role in choosing the urban garden project as the recipient. “The Rainier Community Garden project will provide a strong model for urban garden activation in parks across Seattle and nationally. In addition to providing locally sourced, healthy food, the project will enhance community greenspace and support a vibrant community, ” said Turf Star Western CEO and Owner Joe Guerra.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is partnering with iUrban Teen and the University of Washington’s School of Public Health’s Nutritional Sciences Programs to develop the Rainier Community Center Garden project. The project will produce thousands of pounds of fresh, nutritious food for distribution. Additionally, it will create opportunities for environmental workforce training and agriculture business model implementation for local BIPOC residents. The practices implemented in this garden will inform the development of an environmental education curriculum to be used at other Seattle Parks and Recreation food production sites. 

The $50,000 grant will support the community-centered garden design, purchase of supplies such as materials for raised garden beds and soil, and compensation for labor hours during the build phase. 

“We are thrilled the Rainier Community Garden is the recipient of the Toro Urban Park Innovation Award. Building food security and enhancing the resilience of our urban food system by creatively using our parks and programming is a key goal in our current strategic action plan. This project will provide a model for future projects throughout Seattle and we are looking forward to sharing it with urban park professionals from around the county at the Greater & Greener conference this June,” said Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent AP Diaz

“With the City of Seattle and Toro’s support, we will be able to transform a vacant space into a thriving urban garden. We are empowering our youth to make a difference in their community through learning about sustainable food production and environmental stewardship,” said Deena Pierott, Executive Director, iUrban Teen.

“Urban agriculture projects increase access to nutritionally dense, hyper-local produce, while also supporting communities to reconnect with our food system, learn new skills, share knowledge, and appreciate the dynamic process of growing and enjoying culturally preferable foods. Putting mini urban farms into our city parks can positively transform our neighborhoods and empower communities, one plot at a time. I’m grateful for the opportunity to partner with these visionary organizations and involve our UW food systems, nutrition, and health students in creating a more productive and equitable future,” said Yona Sipos, Associate Director of UW Food Systems, Nutrition, and Health Program. 

Greater & Greener, presented by City Parks Alliance, is the only conference dedicated to exploring the full potential of parks as city-building tools. Greater & Greener 2024, held in Seattle June 21-25, is an exciting mix of indoor learning sessions and outdoor experiences. The conference is designed to have a positive impact on the host cities, and the Toro Urban Park Innovation Award will help to ensure Seattle enjoys a lasting, tangible impact for years to come. 


Media Contacts

City Parks Alliance: Jennifer Caddick, 

The Toro Company: Branden Happel, 

Seattle Parks & Recreation: Rachel Schulkin,



City Parks Alliance
Formed in 2000, City Parks Alliance is the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks. Our mission is to educate and elevate a diverse constituency to leverage the power of parks in shaping equitable, resilient, and thriving cities. Greater & Greener, a project of the City Parks Alliance, is the only conference dedicated to exploring the full potential of parks as city-building tools. The 2024 conference will be held in Seattle, June 21 – 25, 2024. Learn about past Toro Award recipients at: [insert link to Toro Award webpage on G&G site]

The Toro Company
The Toro Company (NYSE: TTC) is a leading worldwide provider of innovative solutions for the outdoor environment, including turf and landscape maintenance, snow and ice management, underground utility construction, rental and specialty construction, and irrigation and outdoor lighting solutions. With net sales of $4.55 billion in fiscal 2023, The Toro Company’s global presence extends to more than 125 countries through a family of brands that includes Toro, Ditch Witch, Exmark, Spartan Mowers, BOSS Snowplow, Ventrac, American Augers, Trencor, Pope, Subsite Electronics, HammerHead, Radius HDD, Perrot, Hayter, Unique Lighting Systems, Irritrol, and Lawn-Boy. Through constant innovation and caring relationships built on trust and integrity, The Toro Company and its family of brands have built a legacy of excellence by helping customers work on golf courses, sports fields, construction sites, public green spaces, commercial and residential properties and agricultural operations. For more information, visit

Seattle Parks and Recreation

Seattle Parks and Recreation equips employees and the public for well-being as we support healthy people, a thriving environment and vibrant community. We provide safe and accessible spaces for residents and visitors to work, recreate, rejuvenate and enhance quality of life and wellness for children, teenagers, adults and seniors.

Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) manages a 6,441-acre park system of over 489 parks and extensive natural areas. SPR provides athletic fields, tennis courts, play areas, specialty gardens, and more than 25 miles of boulevards and 120 miles of trails. The system comprises about 12% of the city’s land area. SPR also manages many facilities, including 25 community centers, eight indoor swimming pools, two outdoor (summer) swimming pools, two environmental education centers, two small craft centers, four golf courses, an outdoor stadium, and much more.