Two ‘Community Gardens’ opened on a wintery day

See how although it didn’t feel like outdoor gardening weather – urban farmers showed up anyway, in the wind-blown rain, at their new plots …

Out in the icy wind and through blasts of rain, Centennial School District Superintendent of Education Sam Breyer talks with Centennial Community Association President Tom Lewis, at the dedication of the Oliver-Parklane Community Garden.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Those who live in the Rosewood and Centennial neighborhood areas know that not all of their schools are in Portland-area school districts.

So, it wasn’t surprising to them to learn that Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) partnered with the Centennial School District to create two new “Community Gardens” at their Parklane and Centennial Park elementary schools on March 1.

At the afternoon ceremony at Parklane Elementary School (formerly known as Harold Oliver Elementary), on the east edge of Parklane Park in the Centennial neighborhood, officials and future farmers came to the grand opening of the Oliver-Parklane Garden.

PP&R Community Gardens Program Manager Laura Niemi talks with gardeners who have signed up for a plot, as they record their gardening spot.

“This, by the way, is the 50th PP&R Community Garden,” smiled Community Gardens Program Manager Laura Niemi, bracing against 35 MPH gusts of wind-blown rain.

“It’s definitely a milestone,” Niemi told East Portland News at the new mid-County garden. “The program started in 1975. And, to have 50 gardens this year, well, it’s really exciting.

“We’d certainly like to have more Community Gardens in the Portland area for people who are not being served by the program,” she added. “There is more work to do – but 50 is a pretty good number, and are happy about that.”

At the east edge of Parklane Park, new urban farmers dash out to claim their plot – then quickly return to shelter out of the wind and rain.

About the day’s event, Niemi commented, “Today, we’ve invited all the people who’ll be getting garden plots to come select which one they’ll ‘own’ for the season. Hopefully, they’ll not get blown away while walking around the garden and choosing the plot they would like to have this year.”

Centennial School District Superintendent of Education Sam Breyer was bundled up against the weather as he told about his district: “A little over half of our kids reside in the City of Portland, and about 40% of our land is in Portland,” Breyer remarked.

Having a Community Garden at one of their schools helps meet their community involvement mission, says Centennial School District Superintendent of Education Sam Breyer.

“I’m enthusiastic about this,” Breyer said. “We believe that our schools can be an anchor in our community, and that is important to us. This is an ideal partnership. We will have more of our schools used by the community, around-the-clock.”

About PP&R, Breyer commended, “It’s a great relationship. This shows how two governments coming together to serve our community. We are thrilled to be a part of it.”

In a very brief ceremony, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz – the Commissioner of Parks – congratulates the new farmers at the Centennial neighborhood site.

Portland’s Parks Commissioner, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, was also on hand for the grand opening.

“It’s impressive that people showed up on a cold and very windy day like today, to claim their plot,” Fritz observed. “I’m happy to see them plan how they’ll be using this to grow healthy food here in the Centennial neighborhood.”

About working with the Centennial School District, Fritz added, “They are terrific partners. I want to find new ways to partner with Portland’s communities to get community gardens.”

Both the new community gardens received financial support from PP&R, the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, and Friends of Portland Community Gardens, according to PP&R Public Information Officer Mark Ross.

To learn more about Portland Parks’ Community Gardens, see their official website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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