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Portland, OR: GROW's Problems

  • Subject: [cg] Portland, OR: GROW's Problems
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 11 Mar 2005 08:10:43 EST

Grow Portland's Community Gardens

Monday, March 07, 2005HEIDI NICHOLS
The Oregonian
P ortland Parks Bureau has recently proposed cuts to the budget of Portland
Community Gardens, which would result in the elimination this year of the
children's gardening program, educational outreach and coordination for the
for People program. Cuts proposed for the 2006-2007 year will eliminate the
Community Gardens program entirely.

These proposals trouble me. As an Oregon State University master gardener who
has gardened at the Reed Community Garden for the past 10 years, including
the last five as a volunteer garden manager, I know the city needs more
community gardens, not budget cuts that will eliminate them.

For many Portlanders, having a community garden plot means the difference
between eating and going hungry. Some families raise the majority of the food
they consume. Needy non-gardeners benefit from community gardens by receiving
organically raised produce donated to food banks by our gardeners. Sharing
those who are less fortunate increases citizen involvement in the well-being
our city and is a very positive aspect of the community garden program.

A city that advocates increased housing density would do well to provide
garden space for those living in homes without that space. Community gardens
gardeners a chance to meet neighbors they might otherwise not know and to
experience cultural and ethnic diversity. A sense of community is something we
should be encouraging in the residents of Portland, not discouraging.

Community gardens provide an opportunity to educate the public and encourage
stewardship of the land. I have spent countless hours educating other
gardeners on developing healthy soil, sustainable gardening practices and
pest management. One of our Reed gardeners, a middle school special education
teacher, uses his garden as a teaching resource and brings his entire class to
the garden one day a week. Many of our gardeners bring their children to the
garden, thereby passing on the love of the land to the next generation.
Including children in gardening is a positive deterrent to involvement in
drugs and other undesirable activities.

On an individual basis, gardening relieves stress, encourages exercise and
provides a connection to the land we live on and the people with whom we live.
find the time I spend in the garden to be the most stress-free portion of my
day. It is my primary exercise. Over the years, I have met a great many people
who are just wandering through the gardens because it gives them moments of
tranquility in their otherwise hectic lives. Many of these visitors have been
from out of the area and have commented positively on what a pleasure it must
be to have a community garden program.

Portland Community Gardens program is an integral part of what makes Portland
a highly livable city. I encourage Mayor Tom Potter and the City Council to
support the Community Garden Program and restore the funds that the Parks
Bureau is proposing be cut. The money involved is minimal compared to the
returned and represents a tiny fraction of the parks and city budgets as a

Heidi Nichols lives in Southeast Portland.

)2005 The Oregonian

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

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