Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A little bit of green in the city

I frequently walk past the Kennedy School Community Garden in Northeast Portland (pictured above and below). Until recently you could stroll through the garden, but unfortunately there must have been some nastiness because now the gate is locked. I can still enjoy it from outside the fence; it is a wonderful collection of separate plots where people are expressing their distinct personality while growing flowers and vegetables. I first became aware of community gardens when I lived on Capitol Hill in Seattle. A new P-Patch garden was going in up the street from my apartment building; I was so excited to be a part of it. Unfortunately to get a spot in the new P-Patch you had to volunteer hours at their work parties, working to get it up and running. Makes sense right? Except the work parties were held on Saturdays and I was a retail store manger at the time. Store Managers do not get Saturdays off, I did not get a spot in the P-Patch. Still, I enjoyed watching the garden develop and walked through it every chance I got. I read that there are currently over 60 P-Patch gardens in Seattle! It is a wonderful program.

A few weeks ago my co-workers and I had lunch in the South Waterfront area of Portland. This is a new neighborhood that was growing fast before the economy tanked. Tall glamorous condo buildings calling out to the Urban Pioneers, as the early residents were labeled. These days things have slowed, there are empty residential and retail units in the towers, and only buildings that were already in development are being completed. It’s an exciting and new neighborhood with an eerie edge to it. Yet in the middle of all the concrete, metal and glass was this, a garden.
Isn’t it wonderful? The residents of these new buildings have the desire to get out there and garden, and they are being given a place to do it! Looks like they are baiting for slugs with a little stale beer trap.
An offering?
Someone practicing Square Foot gardening…
Using a little left over flashing to create a raised bed in the raised bed…
Community Gardens rock!


  1. The last picture really proved to be so... community garden really rocks! I like the way they built the vege beds. It look very strong and steady.

  2. Very cool. What is that outer edging? Looks like sand bags or something! Awesome that people in highrises are still interested in growing stuff. I would also love to learn about roof gardens, if they are greening up cities. Hard to tell from down on the ground. Sorry you didn't get your Seattle P=patch! That seems draconian, to only give slots to people who could work on one day. I saw a new one slated to be built across the street from a friend's house in Ballard - wonder if/when it will take shape? It's only rubble at the moment. Cool post! You know I love me some public veggie gardens. :)

  3. Hi ~~ I heard on the news that vandals have been committing dastardly deeds on a community garden in Portland. This sucks. Probably kids with nothing but idle time on their hands. ... I love the juxtaposing of organic and inorganic in your photos. I hope that this gardening resurgence is more than a passing fad.

  4. I have been reading about vandals hitting community gardens, and the witnesses have been afraid to talk for fear of retribution. It's really sad. I think the police should set up video surveillance and catch the rascals. Too bad you can't visit the Kennedy School community gardens anymore, but hopefully the protection keeps them safe.

  5. Stephanie, yes they do!

    Karen, they used straw/hay in mesh tubes for the outer edging. The type of thing that you would normally see on a construction site as an erosion barrier. I too would love to know more about how many actual gardens are showing up on roof tops. You see a lot of the "green-roof" sedum and such but I wonder how many people are actually gardening on the roof tops?

    Grace, I was so sad to read that story in the paper. Did you see the one in this mornings paper that the community is having a work party at the garden tomorrow to help repair and plant? Maybe good will come from it in the end?

    Megan, isn't that horrible? People afraid to speak up for fear their gardens will be trashed! I think those responsible will be "outed" eventually.


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