‘Memory Garden’ celebrates decade of service

In addition, you’ll see the dedication of Portland’s 44th Community Garden – all at Powellhurst-Gilbert’s Ed Benedict Park …

Joyce Gee finishes tiding up her plot in the new Ed Benedict Community Garden, moments before the dedication ceremony begins.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Dual celebrations highlighted the day, as dignitaries, volunteers, and neighbors gathered at the east end of Ed Benedict Park in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood on June 3.

First, a new community garden was dedicated. Then the Portland Memory Garden celebrated its tenth anniversary.

  • Read our preview article, published earlier this year: “50 new Community Garden plots opening in Ed Benedict Park”; CLICK HERE.

As she got a good start on the growing season, new community gardener Joyce Gee said, about the new park amenity, “It’s great! I can grow vegetables – and tomatoes, especially!  Where I live, we have only shade.”

While she enjoys the process, Gee added, “What I like most about gardening is having the fresh vegetables and food.”

Folks listen, as Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish thanks the supporters and volunteers who helped create this garden.

In the Community Garden, Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish said, “I welcome all of our friends and neighbors and supporters to both these events. It’s my job as the Parks Commissioner to begin by saying ‘thank you’ to all of the volunteers and advocates who make this day possible.

“This is our 44th Community Garden.  In 2009, the City and Multnomah County launched an ambitious Climate Action Plan to reduce greenhouse gases. Part of that was a commitment to build 1,000 garden plots in three years. Even our most stalwart supporters questioned that ambitious goal,” Fish reflected.

Opening Benedict Community Garden, Commissioner Fish says, brings the parks bureau very close to reaching their garden plot goal.

By the fall, Fish revealed, they’ll reach that goal “It’s because people here today – Friends of the Memory Garden, people who love community gardening, neighbors; our friends from the Portland Development Commission and the East Multnomah Soil and Conservation District who’ve provided grants – all these folks came together and put a flag here, and said they wanted a garden.”

Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbate, landscape architect Brian Bainnson of Quatrefoil, Inc., and Community Garden Program Coordinator Laura Niemi, stand with Commissioner Fish as the garden is dedicated.

At the conclusion of the Commissioner’s remarks, the garden’s architect, Brian Bainnson, pointed out that around the perimeter fence was space for growing edible plants. “It will be both decorative, and eatable,” he said.

Guests enter the Portland Memory Garden, for its 10th Anniversary Celebration.

Portland Memory Garden Founders Day Celebration

Learn more about this unique garden from these two articles:

  • In 2008: “Year ’round, Portland Memory Garden provides refreshing experiences” CLICK HERE.
  • In 2010: “Neighbors continue to maintain ‘Memory Garden’” CLICK HERE.

 

As guests walked to the entrance of the Portland Memory Garden, Patty Cassidy, President of “Friends of the Portland Memory Garden” said, “The community garden was in our ‘master plan’ when we built the Memory Garden 10 years ago. We’re so pleased this garden finally is built.”

Cassidy pointed out that, because of the Master Plan, the fence around the community garden mirrors that around the Memory Garden.

“There are only two Memory Gardens on public land in the nation,” Cassidy smiled. “And, we’ve become known for this garden around the world.”

Patty Cassidy, President of “Friends of the Portland Memory Garden”, speaks at the “Founders Celebration”.

In addition to being a beautiful garden in which to stroll, Cassidy noted that it’s used by memory care organizations and health care facilities. “We work with them to provide horticultural therapy programs.”

During their brief formal program, Cassidy told those in attendance why the park began, explained its mission, and their plans for the future.

Cassidy revealed that, last year, the Portland Memory Garden, located in southern mid-County, was chosen as the recipient of the annual Therapeutic Garden Design Award sponsored by the American Horticultural Therapy Association.

Portland Parks & Recreation Director Mike Abbate commended, “This is one of the most amazing gardens we have. Its circular design provides serenity and provides a feeling of security for people with memory issues.

“About 25% of all the things that get done in our Parks Bureau are done by volunteers,” acknowledged Abbate. “Additionally, hundreds of thousands of dollars are donated to help sustain our programs.”

Patty Cassidy shares a moment with new garden volunteer Nancy Young.

It’s not widely known – yet important to point out, Cassidy later told East Portland News, that the mid-County garden is maintained by a pool of nearly 100 volunteers.

“This garden is still looking beautiful and thriving, thanks to the generosity and the goodness of people’s hearts,” said Cassidy. “Some come regularly to our twice-a-month Saturday morning work parties – on the first and third Saturdays of the month – others come once or twice, directed here by organizations like Hands On Portland. We appreciate them all.”

Nancy Young, one of the volunteers, remarked that she recently moved to Portland and started volunteering on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. “I’ve been volunteering ever since. I love gardening, and my mom is affected with memory issues. Even though she lives in another state, I feel really a strong sentimental attachment to do something that helps elderly people. For me, it’s gardening with a mission.”

Volunteer Ann Smith cuts the celebratory cake.

While walking through the garden, Commissioner Fish remarked, “What we have here is, indeed, very special. It’s such a place of tranquility. As our Parks Bureau Director said, it’s because of partnerships. It’s because the community stepped up, and made this happen.”

Guest Debi Allen adds to the Anniversary Mural, as volunteer Jenny Bush looks on.

Ed Benedict Community Garden

  • To sign up for a community garden plot: CLICK HERE

Portland Memory Garden

  • To learn more about Portland Memory Garden: CLICK HERE

They’re both located at SE 104th Avenue and SE Bush Street.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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