The Garden Committee Meeting and recent work:
For the past few weeks in the garden, we’ve been making some improvements to lighting, cleaning up and planning out the space a little better. On October 19th the garden committee met. We are ready to get our Fall and Winter efforts underway.
Foster Powell Community Garden Committee Meeting Notes, October 19th, 2013:
Alex, Cecelia, David, John, Vicki
About the site:
ODOT purchased this property along with many others in the 80’s when Powell Blvd was being considered for widening into the Mt. Hood Freeway. This plan met with opposition and the properties sat dormant or were turned into those dog leg parking areas along Powell. Before that time, the site had been a gas station and it is believed that the tanks are still buried below the asphalt. ODOT has given us permission to use the site for a community garden indefinitely but they are still the owners and some of our decisions will require their approval. They have asked that we not dig or remove any material, that we do not plant trees which they consider a permanent feature and that we do not make changes that are irreversible to the lot-no permanent structures.
There is no water running to the property. No digging in possibly contaminated dirt or removal of asphalt is allowed. That means no water line can be installed on the site. There is no electricity.
- The water solution: A cistern that can hold the 8000 gallons of water the garden will require each growing season (figures provided by EMSWCD). Collect rain water to the cistern in the winter months and fill the rest from the neighbors property once a year and pay them for the water (they are giving us permission to do so). We need to fund this project.
- The no digging/soil contamination solution: Lasagna layers with cardboard and dirt over existing soil (no vegetables-edibles planted there). Veggie beds will be entirely raised from the ground.
- The electricity solution: battery powered lighting, solar powered lighting, hand and battery powered tools. Occasionally we can run a power cord from the neighbor’s outdoor outlet for special events.
What has been done:
The gate was unlocked in April 2013. Since then we:
- created a sign,
- designed, printed and distributed nearly 600 fliers,
- built a website, facebook and email list,
- weeded and planted the parking strip,
- tamed blackberries and weeds all over the lot several times
- created lasagna layers over the existing asphalt surface,
- sought and received a grant for $1500 from EMSWCD and $200 from FPNA and administered that money (we are almost out),
- we had our shed built,
- collected wood for beds, donated soil, various tools, and mulch,
- worked on solutions to the water problem,
- began a concrete retaining wall,
- began building beds,
- installed motion sensor and dusk to dawn lights
What needs doing currently (Goals October-March):
In the Garden:
- Attend work parties/or make your own (organize a group of your friends or neighbors together and spend a day tackling a project)
- Build as many beds as possible with the wood we have collected (keep your eyes peeled for any free eligible wood, too- 2×6” or 2×12” lengths of untreated cedar 4’, 6’, 8’ or more and 4×4 untreated posts in lengths of 3’, 6’ or more
- Line and fill the beds with dirt and get them operational in Spring
- Mural project (Vicki and John)
- Finish landscaping the slope (collect more concrete to continue the wall)
- Cut down blackberry sprouts and level the dirt that has been spread.
For the garden:
- Distribute work party fliers
- Seek donations for, and plant as many NW Native plants on the slope as possible (January?)
- Contact Recology,Mt Scott Fuel and nurseries for 2014 donations (we could also try for more wood in the new year)
- Write and submit the PIC grant for water cisterns, compost and plants
- Write a few other grants (does anyone want to manage a Kickstarter or something like that?)
- Organize plant exchange/sale for April-plan a fundraiser to coincide (t-shirts, bake sale, plant raffle or sale)
What the future holds (things we need to decide eventually-around March, I think):
- Create our garden regulations (I have the Brooklyn CG’s paperwork for us to draw on)
- Will the garden rent plots as some community gardens do? We will need to pay for water, maintenance and garbage/recycling service at very least.
- Can we make some hours open to the public? Make it a neighborhood hub? (This may be a discussion with ODOT)
- What will become of extra food produced at the space? Produce stand? Charity?
- What kind of events would we like to hold in the community space? Classes, workshops, neighborhood parties?
Who we need:
- Builders and garden workers (no experience necessary and you can bring your kids to help, too)
- Grant writers (find em and write em)
- Donation collectors (from businesses and private donors)
- Flier distributors-to your neighbors even
- People willing to do whatever-we love you best of all
Art and Design as crime prevention aids:
John and I have been working on the mural/sign. We had planned on doing this a bit later into the winter but my recent visit with Brad Taylor about crime prevention brought something new to light. The state of the garden right now appears like a housing jobsite. That kind of jobsite might attract people who are looking for tools or material to steal. A larger sign that says community garden would make the intentions for the site clearer. The chain link fence is a deterrent but it’s also easy to climb and some neighbors have witnessed that in the middle of the day even. If people want in, they are coming in, locks or no locks. The mural/sign design has a few deterrents build in to the design. The intention of the lot is made clear and the gate is more securely fastened. There are negative spaces in the sign so you can still see inside without climbing over. Also, the wood pieces are going to interfere with fence climbing. We are underway and the design should start to show up on the fence over the next few weeks. Here is the basic layout:
On another note about crime prevention: a foot patrol is being organized in our neighborhood and I encourage any neighbors who are interested in taking part to contact the organizer, Erik, at: firstname.lastname@example.org I don’t have the specifics yet but my understanding is that this is a group of neighbors that would take evening walks that would send the message that the neighbors actively out looking after the place we live.
Designing a water system:
I had a quick sketch of an idea for a roof structure that collected water for a large tank. I’m going to meet with a few people who are more expert than me on these things: Mather and Sons Pump Service in Vancouver and Pat of Eagle Construction (a neighbor). Perhaps together we can come up with a solution for our water needs. I’ll post sketches for this as we work out the kinks and get closer to grant writing time.
That’s all for now. Happy Halloween (please everyone keep your eyes on the garden on Halloween night. It’s such a mischievous time-I worry about the garden)