Group plans community garden
- Subject: [cg] Group plans community garden
- From: Adam36055@aol.com
- Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2004 08:39:19 -0400
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Comments from Sender: Great community gardening happenings in the "other" Portland....Portland, Maine
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Monday, April 19, 2004
Group plans community garden
By KELLEY BOUCHARD, Portland Press Herald Writer
Copyright 2004 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.
THE PLOTS THICKEN
Jin Soon Brancalhao and Corrina Parham of the Service for Peace organization in Massachusetts plant spinach at Rippling Waters Farm on Sunday.
Laura Cyr of Portland volunteers her time to plant potatoes Sunday at Rippling Waters Farm in Standish. Rippling Waters Farm, a collaborative, gives half of its produce to Cultivating Community in exchange for the labor that young people provide. The produce is distributed to food pantries, low-income seniors and others throughout Greater Portland.
THE PLOTS THICKEN
The city of Portland maintains four community gardens for its residents.They are located on Valley Street, North Street, Clark Street and in Payson Park.
There are 99 plots, each measuring 10-by-15 feet. Each site has a water line, compost bins and a shed for tools, organic fertilizer and lime. Each plot costs $25 a year. The program is popular and waiting lists for each site vary from one to four years.
To sign up for the next available plot,.call Parks and Recreation at 874-8793.
By next year, Swiss chard, string beans and sugarsnap peas will be sprouting from the soil along one of Portland's busiest streets.
Cultivating Community, a nonprofit Portland agency that grows organic produce for people in need, plans to expand its urban gardening program on a half-acre of open city land between the Franklin Arterial and Boyd Street, just a block from Interstate 295.
The plot would be next to a new community garden that the city plans to develop on Boyd Street using a $10,000 federal housing and community development grant. The city's Parks and Recreation Department will build raised beds, install a water spigot and provide a gardening shed that Cultivating Community would share.
On Wednesday, the City Council will consider a proposal to lease the land to Cultivating Community for five years for $1. The project already has strong support from city officials.
"It complements our investment in that area and it's going to help a lot of people," said Wendy Cherubini, grant funds manager for the city's housing and neighborhood services division.
Work on the beds would begin this year and continue into 2005. The first full crops would be planted next spring.
Cultivating Community offers summer work and job-training programs for low- and moderate-income young people. The agency has gardens in Portland, Buxton, Standish and, for the first time this year, South Portland. The agency's programs include Rippling Waters Farm in Standish, which gives half of its produce to Cultivating Community in exchange for the labor young people provide. The produce is distributed to food pantries, low-income seniors and others throughout Greater Portland.
"We do it as a way to engage our youth and meet the need for fresh produce in the emergency food system," said Craig Lapine, executive director of Cultivating Community. "The average meal in the United States travels 1,500 miles before it reaches the table. Our goal is to bring food sources closer to home and eliminate some of that waste."
To create the Boyd Street plot, Cultivating Community will spread two feet of clean soil over a mowed, concave lawn. It's a small section of a sweeping field that runs from Cumberland Avenue, in front of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, to the community center at the edge of Kennedy Park, a public housing complex.
Lapine said the new soil is needed because the existing topsoil is contaminated with lead, as is much of the soil on the Portland peninsula. If ingested, lead can cause a variety of health problems, including nerve damage in children.
Cultivating Community will grow only produce that has shallow root systems. That way, Lapine said, the contaminated soil will remain undisturbed and will pose no health threat.
The city will do the same next year when it creates a community garden on Boyd Street. All of the city's community gardens are tested to ensure safe lead levels, Cherubini said.
Because the Cultivating Community plot would be located near Kennedy Park and Franklin Towers, much of the produce grown there would be distributed to low-income residents in those apartment complexes. Many are recent African immigrants who long for unusual produce not easily accessible in Portland supermarkets.
For that reason, Cultivating Community plans to grow a variety of items, such as lubea beans.
"We grow where the need is," Lapine said.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:
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