New Glenfair Garden grows both relationships … and crops

Find out why a group of volunteers are working to turn under-used land into a growing oasis, in this sometimes rough-and-tumble neighborhood …

Kathy Gould, organizer of the Glenfair Community Garden, and the garden’s manager Aaron Riedl, have good reason to smile – their project is a success.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It seems as if the only time the Glenfair Neighborhood gets into the news is when trouble erupts along the TriMet MAX line, or brawls break out in or around one of the many large apartment buildings located along the light rail line, from 148th to 162nd Avenues.

But, neighborhood leaders have been working to change both the perception – and the reality – of this compact, working class, highly-populated neighborhood ,by doing great community outreach work. Events like their National Night Out celebrations are helping to bring folks together.

At the Harvest Party, gardeners and supporters participate in a prize drawing, held by Kathy Gould and Pastor Rod Vermillion.

A garden grows in Glenfair
This year, volunteers from Glenfair proposed building a community garden on part of Glenfair Evangelical Church’s spacious lawn where NE 143rd Avenue meets E. Burnside Street.

“For a long time, I’ve had a vision of a garden in this big, grassy area near the church,” said the project’s organizer, Kathy Gould. “I finally mentioned it to our former pastor. He had me contact Mike Vander Veen at the East Portland Neighborhood Office. Mike, in turn, gave me lots of contacts and get the ball got rolling.”

Guests help themselves to a bountiful smorgasbord dinner, featuring fresh foods from the garden, just outside the building’s doors.

Gould said she solicited volunteers and started raising funds. “We were given grants by the East Portland Neighborhood Small Grant Program, and from the East Portland Action Plan – both really helped defray the expenses of putting it in and fencing it.”

And, Gould added, the church has also been very supportive of the project. “They’ve provided the land, and paid the water and electric bills. They are firmly behind the garden, which is great.”

Look at the great dinners Alice and Dick Hall are enjoying, at the Glenfair Community Garden Harvest Dinner.

The result: 12 community gardeners had a place to grow their own food – in urban outer East Portland. “We have room for a few more next year,” Gould noted. “The garden will definitely continue next year.”

Even though it’s a lot of work, Gould said the best part for her is, “It’s truly been fun to meet the neighbors in our neighborhood. Our church membership has mostly moved away and doesn’t live nearby. In a way we’ve have disconnected from the neighborhood; this is helped us reconnect with our neighbors.”

Seeing the success of another volunteer project in outer East Portland, East Portland Action Plan Advocate, Lore Wintergreen is all smiles!

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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