‘Garden for the Community’ now open at community center

Here’s why a new vegetable garden and planted space sprouted in front of the East Portland Community Center …

These raised-bed vegetable gardens didn’t appear by magic! It happened through the dedication of the Cherry Blossom Loaves & Fishes Center’s manager.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Volunteers were busy putting the finishing touches on raised planter beds, and on an in-ground garden, on the morning of July 27, at the north side of the East Portland Community Center.

The progress of the project clearly pleased its organizer, Robert Bradley, Manager of the Cherry Blossom Loaves & Fishes Center, which is located in the community center.

“Installing this garden space allows seniors to be their own best advocate,” Bradley smiled.  “They can come here and help grow their own produce.”

Cherry Blossom Loaves & Fishes Center Manager Robert Bradley says these vegetable gardens will provide activities for their seniors – and also yield food for their kitchens.

Bradley pointed out that at 28 inches high, “these beds are high enough so we don’t have seniors bending over, or having to use a long-handled hoe. But it does give them the opportunity to come out here, get some exercise, and get the hands in the dirt.”

Because of the mid-summer planting, the “winter crops” of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, parsley, different kinds of lettuce, chard, and carrot starts were planted. “These are all highbred agricultural foods that we’ll prepare in our kitchen here, and serve at our dining facility. We expect that about half of our vegetables, next summer, will come from this garden.”

Isabel LaCourse of Independence Gardens, a small business that helps Portlanders grow their own food, waters the newly-planted vegetable starts.

Asked how the garden came about, Bradley replied, “Having gardens like these have been of long-standing importance to me. When I was at Elm Court (the Loaves & Fishes Center in downtown Portland), we are able to talk City Hall into pulling up their lawn and putting in a vegetable garden there. When I came out here, it was a logical extension that we have a place to grow vegetables.”

With the help of an $8,000 grant from the City of Portland Department of Environmental Services, they’ve created raised beds and indigenous plantings in the area, he said. “These are plants that we encourage people to use in their yards at home, because they help conserve water resources.”

These “Make it Better” volunteers from the Portland Trail Blazers – Karen Olson, Ticket Operations Coordinator; Janice Parker, Manager of Business Affairs and Community Relations; Kevin Williams, Corporate Sales Manager; and Kathleen McAteer, Season Ticket Account Manager – do plantings in this “garden for the community”.

This new botanical installation isn’t a “community garden”, Bradley explained; “Instead, it’s a ‘garden for the community’. By this, I mean that when people are interested in doing landscaping at home, or starting a garden, we have examples here of what native plants work well. And, they can always come and ask us questions that we’ll answer to the best of our ability.”

Stop on by, and look and ask at your outer East Portland Community Center. Because Bradley has been teaching farming classes with Oregon Food Bank for many years, you’ll probably get the right answer – and perhaps lunch!

Cherry Blossom Loaves & Fishes Center

  • 740 SE 106th Avenue
  • Phone: (503) 256-2381.
  • Website: CLICK HERE

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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