New ‘Community Orchard’ planted in Russell

See why this celebration was especially significant to a family with deep roots in outer East Portland …

It’s a day of planting at the new Parkrose Community Orchard, located in the Russell neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

About 45 people gathered in the square of Parkrose Community United Church of Christ to hold a Community Orchard groundbreaking celebration and “planting party”, at10:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 24.

Welcoming those present was community volunteer and local food activist Ron Glanville – the man behind the revitalization of the Parkrose Farmers Market and the community garden on the church’s property.

The organizer of the Community Orchard at Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, Ron Glanville, welcomes volunteers.

“We’ve partnered with other organizations, on other projects,” Glanville told East Portland News. “It is an efficient and good way to get things done.”

Called the “Parkrose Community Orchard” – although it is actually located in the Russell neighborhood – this is the fifth “Portland Fruit Tree Project”-led community orchard in Portland, made possible with grants from the East Multnomah Soil & Water Conservation District, and the East Portland Action Plan.

“We’ve been in the application process for about two years,” Glanville reflected, “which includes selecting the property where the orchard will be planted, the grant process, and now the actual preparation and planning of where all the trees will be installed.”

Even using a power auger, tractor operator Jesse Goodling and helper Tub Harding find that the rock-filled soil makes digging holes for trees difficult.

At the site, Glanville said they’re in the process of developing “permaculture” [a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly-utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems].

“Today, we’re planting about 25 understory trees,” Glanville observed. “Next year, we’ll do more planting, and install an irrigation system until the trees get established.”

The Taylor family – including grandmother and grandchildren – gathers with the Jonathan apple tree saplings, donated to the Parkrose Community Orchard in memory of Jonathan Michael Taylor. His mother, Karen Taylor, holds a commutative plaque that will be installed near the trees.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, the family of Mike and Karen Taylor came to plant trees in memory of their son.

“Our son Jonathan died in an accident a little over a year ago,” Karen Taylor told the group. “We gave our three daughters each a Jonathan apple tree in remembrance of him. The suggestion was that we plant them in one place where they would grow together, and that would be our living memorial to him.”

Volunteer Lindsay Kranz digs a hole to plant one of the fruit trees in new Community Orchard.

She said they thought about planting the trees in the back yard of their home. “But then there was the question was what would happen if we moved,” Taylor said. “Our ‘memorial’ trees would be living in somebody else’s backyard.”

None of them have a green thumb, she said. “We found out about the community garden here, and the Fruit Tree Project Orchard. It feels as a fitting place as any for these trees to go, and live, and thrive. Because of our family’s long association with the greater Parkrose area, this seems to be the perfect place.”

Telling why the East Multnomah County Soil & Water Conservation District funded a three-year grant for the project is its Executive Director, Jay Udelhoven.

“This is a three-year grant,” remarked East Multnomah County Soil & Water Conservation District Executive Director, Jay Udelhoven

This grant was made, he said, “Because this group of people is engaging the community,” Udelhoven explained. “And, we have a real focus on the east side of the urban area. We’re trying to do as much as we can to engage the community, and especially the eastern urban areas of Multnomah County.”

Demonstrating how to plant a fruit tree is “Portland Fruit Tree Project” Orchards Programs Coordinator Gareth Stacke.

“Portland Fruit Tree Project” Orchards Programs Coordinator Gareth Stacke commented that those in this organization is especially excited about the location of the new Community Orchard in the outer East Portland area.

“Right here [is where] we’ve identified the greatest need for fresh, healthy produce in Portland,” Stacke said. “This Community Orchard additionally supports the bonds that are strengthened when neighbors share in the care and harvest of a thriving community-owned food resource.”

The Parkrose Community United Church of Christ, and the new orchard, are sited at 12505 NE Halsey Street, 97230 – just east of BiMart. See more about the project on their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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