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Roseburg, Oregon: New Community Garden

  • Subject: [cg] Roseburg, Oregon: New Community Garden
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Tue, 18 May 2004 08:28:52 EDT

News-Review Article published May 17, 2004

Garden of Learning

Community garden will serve county's needy, provide horticulture education for students


Growing ripe tomatoes and healthy stalks of corn isn't the only purpose for a new community garden.

"It's to grow food for people who need it and also to educate students," said Al Jenkins, Phoenix School of Roseburg life skills coordinator.

The garden, located behind Phoenix School on Diamond Lake Boulevard, will be used to educate local children about horticulture and culinary skills. It will also be a resource for low-income families.

On Saturday, a group of about 10 volunteers gathered rocks in wheelbarrows and buckets to stabilize posts for fencing to go around what will become a community garden.

The garden is a partnership of the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps of Phoenix School, AmeriCorps VISTA and the Roseburg community. The groups and Phoenix School will maintain the garden throughout the year. There will be weekend work parties and daily upkeep.

With only lettuce, cantaloupe and beans already planted, the garden looked sparse. But soon there will be tomatoes, melons, peppers, corn and a variety of herbs from chives to basil to thyme. All the food will be organically grown.

The food will be used for the Phoenix School's new culinary program and be donated to Umpqua Community Action Network Food Shares program, a local nonprofit organization helping those in poverty.

Next school year, Phoenix School students will be in charge of the school's lunch program. Part of the $92,000 raised from Phoenix's recent auction will go toward kitchen remodeling and purchasing cooking supplies for the new culinary program. The students will learn how to prepare meals using produce from the garden.

Phoenix students will also use the garden to learn about horticulture. They'll keep data sheets to monitor which plants thrive in the sunlight or shade or in different kinds of soils, Jenkins said.

Planting beans

Some of the plants in the garden won't be able to survive in Oregon, but they'll be sown anyway.

"We want the kids to understand what grows here and what doesn't grow here," Jenkins said.

Teachers can point out a plant in a book, and tell students why it grows where it does, but without the students experiencing it for themselves, they don't learn, Jenkins said.

Oregon Youth Conservation Corps, a group of Phoenix students who get paid for work-related projects, will be in charge of installing irrigation as well as general maintenance year-round.

The youths will have to dig a trench 8 feet deep and 300 feet long to reach the water source for the irrigation, Jenkins said.

Other area schools are also encouraged to use the garden, Jenkins said. Eastwood and Hucrest elementary schools have already grown plants for it. Their students and some from the YMCA will visit the garden to learn about horticulture throughout the year, Jenkins said.

The garden is one of many AmeriCorps VISTA projects. VISTA is a national community service organization where people age 18 years and older spend a year working on service projects.

The local group has eight members who work on developing programs like teen housing and sending at-risk youth to college, said Jane Larson, VISTA team coordinator.

Because they aren't paid a lot "they really do give a lot of their life to make things better in our community," Larson said.

VISTA member Kristen Lie, 26, said she wanted to work on the garden because she hopes it will build ties in the community, and she thinks it's a great opportunity for Phoenix School.

Trees will be planted around the garden's perimeter and someday the group hopes to plant fruit trees. Native plants will also be in the garden, and the Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service plan to buy the seeds for their own restoration projects.

With the help of a $1,450 grant from the Blazers Community Builders Youth Corps, the group was able to buy supplies for the garden. Umpqua Watersheds Inc., Central Feed, Douglas County Farmers Co-op, Jenkins Construction Co., and local citizens have donated supplies. Wildlife Safari will supply compost throughout the year, and some of its employees will share their knowledge of gardening with the students. Anyone who knows about gardening and wants to teach the children is welcome, Jenkins said.

"It will give people an opportunity to bond with kids and teach them a work ethic," he said.

* You can reach reporter Danielle Gillespie at 957-4202 or by e-mail at dgillespie@newsreview.info.

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