Story by Abby Warren
In her article, "Taking Root", Hannah Wallace explores the thriving community gardening culture in Portland and in other Oregon cities and towns.
Portland Parks & Recreation's Community Gardens Programruns 45 community gardens, one of the highest amounts of gardens per capita in the country. With a high and increasing demand for growing their own food, Portlanders, especially those living in the inner city, are discovering that they are not alone in this desire. Waitlists for inner city garden plots read sometimes 200 names long.
With our 1,000 Gardens initiative, we intend to lower this number and decrease the time it takes to get gardeners into plots. Already out of the five new sites our community gardens team built this year: Frazer Park, Ed Benedict, Errol Heights, Kenton and Grant School Garden, only three still have plots available.
Why the high demand? Wallace speaks with a number of Portland gardeners, garden volunteers and garden managers to answer this question.
Laleña Dolby, volunteer at the Colonel Summers garden and Development Director at Zenger Farmsays she is interested in the community building provided by the gardens- connecting with neighbors and sharing information. Others sign up because they don't have the space in their home yards. But many Portlanders have entered the community gardening world to cut down on grocery bills. With many residents facing job loss and pay cuts, having the ability to grow fresh healthful foods that are no longer affordable at the grocery store is appealing and vital to many.
Dolby typically sources 95 percent of her fruits and veggies from her 400-square-foot garden plot, which costs her $85 a year and includes water and a tool shed. Marc Schiedecker, the manager at Gilbert Heights Community Garden lost his job at a law firm a few years ago. Now he and his wife eat from the garden year-round. "This is not just a hobby for us," he explains. "We need this."
To read more about community gardening in Oregon including the challenges faced by community gardeners, how to get your own plot, how to start a community garden, and a list of helpful resources, read Wallace's story in:
Hannah Wallace for Oregon Home
Photo credit: Carl Kiilsgaard