‘Eatable Sidewalk’ planting is highlight of Earth Day Carnival

Some folks say we should give our kids healthier foods. See how this Centennial-area school is growing fresh snacks for students‚ and neighbors‚ to enjoy‚

budding arborists Alex Pereira, Jack Ollenbrook, and Wiliam Ollenbrook help Patty Hicks, Centennial Neighborhood Association board member, prepare the soil in which grape plant starts will be set.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Thanks to the work of a school, volunteers and a neighborhood grant, a “feast for those on foot” will soon be growing along the fence at the Franciscan Montessori Earth School, just off SE Division St. on 148th Avenue, in the Centennial neighborhood.

“We’re calling this the ‘Eatable Schoolyard/Eatable Sidewalk,’ Project,” explains the groundskeeper, Marc Boucher-Colbert.

Talia and Kaya Koida-Jeffrey help Marc Boucher-Colbert dig the holes for the new grape plants.

“The idea is to promote a sense of community. In a couple of years as people are walking by, they’ll be able to reach out and grab a healthy snack. And, students will be able to come over and graze of a few grapes, too. We’re joining together with our community to promote healthy eating,” says Boucher-Colbert.

He says he first got the idea when he learned of an “Eatable Schoolyard” project in California. “We have so much property here‚ and a kind of ugly chain-link fence. It made sense to grow some grapes!”

They’re growing six varieties of table grapes, both red and green seedless varieties. The plants, provided by a nursery in Molalla, were chosen because they thrive in Portland’s climate.

Marc Boucher-Colbert says six varieties of seedless table grapes will grace the school’s sidewalk.

Neighborhood coalition funds project
East Portland Neighborhood Office’s Richard Bixby is on hand to watch the planting.

Bixby explains how it was funded, telling us, “The city has provided for a neighborhood grant program this year. It supports community-building projects like these. The grants are approved for projects that are designed to gather people together, around a common effort, to improve their community.”

Franciscan Montessori Earth School
holds ‘Earth Carnival’

Duncan Tharp and mom Teri at the Toilet Bowl Toss.

“Welcome to our Franciscan Montessori Earth Day Carnival,” greets Edie Chomajan, chair of the event.

“We have all kinds of things here. Our carnival games are all earth-preservation minded. But the main focus is on having fun,” Chomajan adds. “We chose this theme because we are the Franciscan Montessori Earth School‚ a great way for us to tie in with one of our founding themes.”

Megan and Roy Wagner enjoy the tunes of banjo player Paul Silveria.

The Burgerville kitchen crew is Trevor Stanner, Kristin Knight-Stanner, manager Joe Tharp, Christina Duplantis. Back working the grill is Steve Cox.

The aroma of Tillamook Cheeseburgers, hot off the grill, signals that Burgerville is partnering with yet another non-profit organization. “What we’re doing is providing meals today,” Joe Tharp manager of 92nd & Powell Burgerville says, “and donating all the proceeds back to the school.”

Dewayne Hatcher and daughter Sarah have fun at the Coin Toss.

In addition to providing Earth-Day-themed fun, Chomajan says the event is great way for students, families and the community to come together.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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