Fitting. That is the best that can be said about the city of Seattle’s Dept. of Neighborhoods recent announcement of the location of its first public composting toilet. Where is it being placed? The Picardo Farm "P-Patch," of course.


Without easy access to sewage systems, the Dept. of Neighborhoods decided to go with the city’s first public composting toilet inside a community garden at the city’s Picardo Farm P-Patch. Actually, not a bad idea at all, especially for a community garden that could use all the composting help it can get.


The Picardo Farm Garden was the first Seattle P-Patch—a term that was originally short for Picardo Patch and has now come to symbolize all community gardens in Seattle—established in 1976 based on the idea that you “give back what you put in,” according to then-site owner Rainie Picardo. For years, the 281-plot gardeners of Picardo Farm have longed for a permanent restroom, even voting in the early 2000s to begin the process of finding the right solution.

That P-Patch solution replaces the chemical-filled Honey Bucket temporary toilet, obviously a convenient relief to the gardeners and visitors, says Stella Chao, director of the Seattle Dept. of Neighborhoods. 

The agency is designed to provide programs and services that engage residents in civic participation, foster stronger communities and enhance the character of neighborhoods. In Seattle that means composting toilets.


But you don’t get just a toilet with the Clivus Multrum M54W composting system. You get an entire building too. The water-tight chamber underneath the toilet holds lightly packed wood shavings along with a solar-powered bilge pump to convert the "matter" to carbon dioxide and distribute it throughout the shavings.


Solar-powered fans are also built into the building to produce fresh air. Of course, it becomes important that during periodic maintenance all matter composted can be removed and distributed elsewhere as fertilizer, such as the garden plots themselves possibly.


The entire building, complete with the solar power options, promotes fan-powered air flow.


The volunteer gardeners were able to gain use of the composting toilet after jumping through a variety of hoops. A neighborhood matching fund award that provided the necessary funding was the first step in sustainable refuse. The group also hired a professional engineer to help them get through the multiple city and county permitting requirements.


And every good P-Patch toilet deserves a grand welcome. At 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 3, the Dept. of Neighborhoods will host a “public celebratory opening of the newest Picardo feature.”


Garden tours and a 1 p.m. ribbon cutting will highlight the event. You just have to love ribbon-cutting events for a toilet. Only in Seattle do we get so excited about composting toilets. I just wonder what happens right after the ribbon cutting.