50 new Community Garden plots opening in Ed Benedict Park

Take a look at how well volunteers from the Portland Memory Garden are doing, as they build a new community garden in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood …

Outer East Portland’s newest neighborhood garden patch will be ready by May, says  PP&R Community Gardens Program Coordinator Laura Niemi – as she stands at the gate that opens into the Ed Benedict Park site.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Providing space for Community Gardens is one of Portland Parks & Recreation’s (PP&R) most popular services. In fact, the waiting list to participate in some East Portland gardens is more than 100 names long.

But now, according to PP&R Community Gardens Program Coordinator Laura Niemi, the Parks Department is now taking reservations for its newest outer East Portland location – the southeast corner of Ed Benedict Park, at SE 104th & Bush Street.

“We expect the garden to be ready for use by May,” Niemi remarked, as she surveyed the plot of land – freshly-tilled with soil amenities, and surrounded by a handsome wrought-iron fence.

This community garden, organized by the Friends of Portland Memory Garden, which is located directly to the west of the new community garden space, was part of the “Master Plan” since it was completed about a decade ago, Niemi added.

Although the ground hasn’t yet been tilled, plots have already been staked out – here, at Ed Benedict Garden, next to the Portland Memory Garden.

“In 2009, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish started an initiative to build more community gardens, to meet the growing demand for garden plots,” said Niemi. “We currently have 39 community gardens; and another five or six are under construction.”

Like at the other sites, this garden will have about 50 plots, Niemi continued. “For those who want to grow a couple of tomato plants, we have plots as small as 5′ x 10′ – and we have other plots as large as 20′ x 20′.”

In addition to being a place to grow fresh food, community gardens provide the opportunity for urban farmers to share knowledge, seeds, and even crops. “And, it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors, and feel more at home in your own neighborhood.”

Many outer East Portland Community Garden spaces are available
Niemi said that, while the demand for community garden space continued to be high in outer East Portland, some plots are still available at these sites:

  • Berrydale Community Garden, SE 90th & Taylor
  • Brentwood Community Garden, SE 57th & Cooper
  • Furey Community Garden, SE 117th & Reedway
  • Lents Community Garden, SE 88th & Steele
  • Senn’s Community Garden, NE 112th & Prescott
  • Hazelwood Community Garden, NE 117th & Holladay

“Plots are assigned on a first come, first served basis,” explained Niemi. “When all of the plots in a garden are assigned, we start a waiting list.”

Raised beds, of varying heights, make gardening easier for individuals with limited mobility.

Community Garden Space fees:

  • $21 for 100 ft.² Single plot
  • $43 for 200 ft.² Standard plot
  • $85 for 400 ft.² Double plot
  • $20 for 4’x8’ ADA-accessible raised bed

Scholarship assistance is also available. To volunteer to help prepare a community garden for the growing season, to make a plot reservation, or to obtain more information, visit the official PP&R Community Garden website: CLICK HERE. Or, call (503) 823-1612.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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