City Expands North Street Community Garden

By Carol McCracken

It was a sunny afternoon in mid-June and many of the new gardners at the North Street Community Garden were hard at work trying to play catch up for a late start in planting their gardens – in an area where the growing season is notoriously already short.  But the reason for the late start overall was the city’s expansion of the Garden which took longer than expected.

Several of them were mothers with young children – gardening while trying to teach their young some gardening etiquette; please don’t run with tools, please don’t walk on others garden plots, after you’ve admired the worm please return it to the soil in one piece thank you very much and the like.

One mother of three young children, Kelly Ayer, said, “The garden brings to my children wonder, hope and anticipation for what will come. They are able to be part of the process of growing food. They see where food comes from and can contribute to the process. It makes them part of a team.” This as the attractive mother was separating her various herbs from each other by tying each bunch with a long strand of chives from her garden before depositing them in her homeward bound basket.

Despite deep budget cuts which resulted in the loss of ninety plus city jobs, some of them high profile jobs, the city proceeded with its plan to expand the North Street garden by sixteen plots. All the work that needed to be done by the city and its contractor to expand the garden accounted for the planting delay experienced by new gardners. The North Street garden is one of four in the City and was established in 1999. “The City of Portland is very supportive of our gardens,” said Joan, community garden coordinator.

Each gardner pays $30.00 to garden in one plot for the growing season. That amount of money covers the cost of tools, water, lyme, organic fertilizer, compost and various other items. According to city officials the $30. does not cover all the expenses the city incurs on behalf of the gardens, although a comprehensive evaluation of the expenses has not been done. Most people that MHN spoke with, however, said they had no problem supporting the concept.

Sue Yandell, one of the new gardners said she’s been trying to play catch up for such a late start in the growing season. “It’s really quite amazing how much ground we’ve been able to make up,” Sue said grinning as she produced four zuccinis she’d just picked from her garden.

“What a great garden year! The new gardens look soo wonderful,” says a note on the bulletin board inside the locked tool shed written by Joan, our intrepid leader.