by Nancy Flynn, Woodlawn Neighborhood Association
Most Wednesday mornings during the gardening season, my husband, John, harvests whatever is currently ripe from a skinny plot at the Woodlawn Community Garden. This plot is dedicated to Produce for People, the Portland Community Gardens program that works to provide emergency food shelters across the city with organic, locally grown food.
At the height of summer, he will often fill two or three Rubbermaid bins each week with quite the assortment of leeks, peas, Swiss chard, collards, spinach, lettuce, scallions, heirloom tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, beets, fresh herbs, yellow and green beans, and (of course) the ubiquitous zucchini—all from the plot or donated by other Woodlawn gardeners.
At 9:00 AM, the emergency services food pantry at the Martha H. Terrell Community Services Center (affiliated with St. Andrew Church) on NE 8th Avenue opens its doors. John usually arrives not long after to make his delivery; the volunteers sometimes tell him it is the only fresh produce they have. Last year, the Woodlawn Community Garden alone donated close to 500 pounds of produce to the food pantry. Citywide, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) community gardens donated over 23,000 pounds. Talk about farm-to-table!
“Community Gardens are a neighborhood treasure”
If you want to grow your own food, meet your neighbors, and get some exercise at the same time, then a Portland Community Gardens plot may be just the ticket for you. There are over fifty throughout the city and we are lucky to have four of them in our area in the Sabin, Woodlawn, Boise-Eliot, and Concordia neighborhoods. An annual rental fee will get you access to water as well as tools, wheelbarrows, and compost.
Last year, thanks to our relatively mild winter, my husband and I enjoyed produce from our plot at the Woodlawn Community Garden all year long. From arugula and lettuce in our salads in January and February to an early tomato called Bloody Butcher that found its way to ripening before the 4th of July, it was a delight to be able to eat “in season” and share our bounty of garden-fresh vegetables with neighbors and friends.
Community gardens are a neighborhood treasure. They add beauty to our surroundings while providing important landscapes for birds and pollinators. Come and join the fun. For a map of garden locations and other information, visit: www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/39846