Rooftop Garden

Rooftop Garden

Visitors to campus might be surprised to see trees, vegetables, and flowers growing 75 feet above the ground. The top of Trinity’s parking garage is being transformed into a rooftop garden, complete with a vegetable garden, greenhouse, picnic tables, flower boxes, and willow trees being grown to support local salmon habit restoration efforts.

The garden was conceived by the Rev. Dr. David Ellingson, Professor of Children, Youth & Family Studies, soon after the college relocated to Everett in 2008. The view from his office provided a striking contrast between the gray parking structure and the picturesque Cascade Mountains rising in the distance.

Ellingson has developed the garden with Susan Houglum, Professor & Chair of Early Childhood Education, both who share a passion for gardening, the outdoors, and stewardship of God’s Creation. Houglum’s primary addition to the garden has been a children’s play and learning area, which includes a desert (sand pit), meadow (grass area), river (painted design of a river system), and toddler-friendly planting boxes.

While the garden is on the college’s property, it is also intended to be of service to the greater Everett community. Last fall, the college received a grant to purchase earth boxes to grow organic food that will be used by the college and shared with churches, a local shelter, and senior communities. The college also completed installation of a solar panel in the garden to provide energy and serve as a teaching tool.

Support for the rooftop garden

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, IL - $6,000
The Domestic Hunger Grant established the rooftop garden with the initial purchase of earth boxes for growing food, building larger planter boxes for trees, and gardening equipment.

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Appleton, WI - $5,000
The “Care in Regions” grant was used to develop the garden’s learning area through the purchase of picnic tables, benches, and natural playscapes for children.

Wheat Ridge Ministries, Itasca, IL - $12,000
The grant funds a three-year project to create partnerships in the local community to address hunger, poor nutrition, and lack of recreation. Students and faculty will train community members in creation care, growing and preparing food, healthy recreation, and creating lively community.

Snohomish PUD Planet Power Program, Everett, WA - $25,000
The grant provided for the installation of a 2.5 kilowatt-hour Solar Array panel through the Solar-4R-Schools program. The panel generates electricity and provides a learning environment for college classes and local schools for teaching about renewable energy and environmental issues. Bonneville Education Endowment provided curriculum and oversaw installation.

Snohomish Master Gardener Foundation, Snohomish, WA - $2,000
The grant provided for purchase of tools, greenhouse supplies, water barrels, as well as consultation with a "master gardener."

Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund, Tulalip, WA - $2,000
The grant funded a Rain Garden to filter polluted water from parking garage roof which will then be used to water vegetables. A cooperative project with Snohomish County Conservation District. Labor from Conservation District and Trinity students. Native plants from Master Gardeners.

Bellevue Nursery
Cedar Grove Composting
Columbia Basin Nursery
Dave Hanson Custom Homes
Earth Box
Emery’s Garden
Lowe’s
Our Savior’s Lutheran Church Youth Group
Port Gardner Winery

Seattle Tilth
Seed Savers
Snohomish Water Conservation District.
Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force
Structural Design Associates
Volunteers of America Western Washington
West Seattle Natural Energy


To volunteer or make a donation to the rooftop garden, contact Dr. David Ellingson at 425.249.4722 or david.ellingson@TLC.edu.