The Beacon Food Forest is giving away dozens of strawberry plants. For free.

It’s a drizzly, chilly, gray Saturday, typical of January in Seattle. In just a few hours, the Seahawks will host the Packers for the NFC Championship. While the rest of the city slugs its first tailgate beer of what will become an epic afternoon of football, 60 or so unpaid farmhands are hard at work. They wheelbarrow wood chips, prune pear trees, and remove invasive species from the hillside urban garden, preparing it for spring. Some are uprooting the profusion of propagating strawberry plants that are taking over pathways and smothering other ground-cover herbage (hence the gratis strawberry plants).

The work party breaks for lunch; people congregate and laugh while a drummer and clarinetist improvise a blues jam. Volunteers sip soup prepared by fellow food foresters, and munch on a local bakery’s donation of unsold bread. Despite the drab weather and humdrum winter work, the vibe is quite lively.