Time for CCC plots to sprout gardeners Time for CCC plots to sprout gardeners
Dwindling turnout worries organizers as more than 100 plots await people wishing to tend flowers or vegetables
OREGON CITY -- The ground has been tilled, the weeds have been pulled and most of the plots have been marked.
Now all Kathy Von Striver needs are some gardeners.
But under bright skies and relatively warm temperatures, the summer community gardening season at Clackamas Community College got off to something less than a rosy start Monday.
Other than a few regulars -- some folks in their 80s who have been working their plots since the community garden opened 32 years ago -- it was a day of no-shows.
"This is the earliest we've opened the garden," said Von Striver, who is helping coordinate the college's new Green Spaces community gardening club.
But the 41-year-old Oregon City woman fears if she doesn't find some gardeners soon, the community garden could disappear.
The college has operated the community garden on campus since it started in 1970. Anne Donelson, the college's director of public affairs, said the college can't afford to offer the program as it has in the past.
But she dismisses the notion that this will be the make-or-break year for the community gardening program.
"We're going to look at it (CCC Greenspaces) to see how it works," she said. "Hopefully, they can make a go of it."
Still, Von Striver has concerns. The club begins the main growing season with virtually no garden tools or equipment and only a couple dozen gardeners.
"We're running on a wing and a prayer," she said with a nervous chuckle.
When Von Striver and her work party of gardeners showed up last week, they found waist-high weeds and several sections of the garden's 3-inch-thick aluminum irrigation pipes smashed.
Ed Henson, a community gardener and an aide to Von Striver, suspects the pipe damage was the work of a four-wheel-drive truck doing donuts.
Von Striver said about 60 percent of the pipe was damaged. Volunteers are trying to salvage useable pieces, and she hopes to raise enough money this spring to complete the irrigation system.
Von Striver said the volunteers rototilled the approximately 130 to 140 garden plots. So far, there are about 26 gardeners who will pay $15 a year to rent the plots, which are about 700 square feet.
The fee goes into an account to pay for tilling, irrigation pipe, sprinklers and other equipment.
Gardeners are responsible for fertilizing, weeding and harvesting their plots. The college provides the land free and pays for twice-a-week watering through November.
Von Striver, who has been raising corn, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers and a variety of other vegetables for several years, said the garden draws people from all over the Portland area. But surprisingly, she said, many people who live within two miles of the garden don't know it exists.
She said her group is trying to get the word out in hopes it can draw more people into the club and encourage businesses to donate gardening tools and equipment.
The community garden is on the north end of the campus, about two miles south of downtown Oregon City. It can be reached on either Oregon 213 or Beavercreek Road.
To reach Von Striver, call 503-655-0637.