Community Garden and Orchard Spotlight: Portland, Oregon
Part of creating vitality involves our connection to food and land. Many people today live in denser urban areas and do not have the space to have a garden. Portland Oregon has a long standing (since 1975!) Community Garden program and it is a great illustration of something that could be replicated in other cities and towns. We thought it would be great to highlight one of the 57 gardens in the program and a unique urban orchard to show what is possible.
Lents Community Garden in Southeast Portland covers .41 acres within the southern portion of Lents. It is enclosed by a fence and various plot sizes are available. There is a shared tool storage area as well as water access. Pathways of bark chips help delineate the zones.
Plot size options are: 50 sf “starter” plot ($20/yr), 100 sf “single” plot ($36/yr), 200 sf “standard” plot ($66/yr), 400 sf “double” plot ($124/yr) and in some larger garden locations an 800 sf “quad” plot ($200 / yr). A number of plots are raised and ADA compliant ($20/yr). The fees are to offset water costs, orientation and general maintenance.
Many gardens are carved out of existing public parks but others are on land donated by other organizations. The program offers people who may not have land or space to grow an opportunity to have their own plot. It also provides a social and physical connection to neighbors and helps strengthen bonds between neighbors.
Another example of creating food resilience and community connection is Lents neighborhood’s very own Malden Court Community Orchard. Green Lents, a non-profit group focused on local sustainability was granted access to use a lot owned by the city to cultivate an orchard to provide food for the community. It began in 2014 with goats clearing out blackberries on a triangular shaped lot.
Similar to Lents Community Garden, logs and plants of all types are layered to attract pollinators. Beautiful hand made benches and places to relax are added for enjoyment. It’s a great example of what can happen on so many empty lots when people decide they want to make a difference