It was August 2011 when a resident of Piedmont and his wife told me that the Rosemont Court might be a good place for a community garden. Right now, the Piedmont Neighborhood has no community garden, but that is about to change!
After visiting Rosemont and seeing that it would be a wonderful spot to put in some garden boxes, I emailed Melissa Richmond, my new friend, a Therapeutic Horticulture Specialist about her being part of this project. My goal for this project was to create an accessible community garden in the Piedmont Neighborhood, because Melissa works with many seniors to facilitate their therapy by seed harvesting, planting, and fruit harvesting her expertise on this would be really helpful.
A grant request for garden through the North Portland Neighborhood Services (NPNS) with support from the Piedmont Neighborhood Association. There was quite a bit of work to be done before the grant application could be submitted. I made sure that the management and owner of Rosemont Court would like the community garden; Parr Lumber would sell materials at cost for the community garden, and I contacted Oregon Women In Trades. Women In Trades built the community garden at the June Key Delta Community Center and we were fortunate that they agreed to be a part of this!
At Women In Trades I found Dawn Jones, she runs the training program for women who want to go into the construction trades in an apprenticeship program such as: HVAC, electric, concrete, construction, etcetera. During their training program the women are typically engaged in hands-on training with the use of tools and safety in construction work that benefits Portland area non-profits. Dawn was excited to be a part of it and I was glad to have her buy in.
The grant application was finished up late on December 20, 2011 and I was informed early February that the grant had been accepted, it was funded for an additional thousand dollars! Presidents from the North Portland neighborhood associations approved my grant application through the evaluation process within the North Portland Neighborhood Services grant program.
My other goal was to get the garden up and going this year which meant that Oregon Women In Trades would have to start building garden boxes right away. After letting Dawn know the grant had been approved I sent over some pictures of accessible garden boxes from recommendations by Melissa Richmond. Dawn thought they would be challenging in their construction and was generous enough to give three days (March 14, 21, and 28) of hands on class time for the effort. I hastily made a product list and ordered the materials from Parr Lumber. It was raining when I met Dawn at Rosemont Court that first day of construction, but everyone was very cheerful nonetheless!
Prior to build day number one I had gone out to Yoshida Foods and purchased three barrels to make garden boxes that would cradle a half barrel at a height accessible to people in wheel chairs. Other accessible boxes would be essentially tables with sides to hold soil in, they would contain about 10-inches of soil. At their deepest, the food barrels will hold 11-inches of soil. The boxes would all be built out of untreated cedar so they would last a long time and not contaminate the vegetables.
As a result of my hastily detailed plans I hadn’t order enough lumber the Women in Trades crews weren’t going to be able to complete all of the boxes for the day as planned, it was a learning experience for me, but Dawn was used to it. She asked her pre-apprentices to take off their tool belts, line up and do jumping jacks, push-ups, and jog down the block.
Between the first and second build day, more lumber was ordered and the garden box details were refined. By the third and last build day there were 3 large ground level boxes, 2 table top boxes, and 3 half-barrel units. Oregon Women In Trades also build a nice potting table out of cedar.
On April 14th, Ted, Shaun, Marvin, Justin, and [what was his name] moved soil from another neighborhood project to fill up the garden boxes. May 1st or so, residents of Rosemont Court started planting in the community garden.
A few of the things left to do:
1. Set up a water storage system,
2. Pathway between the boxes,
3. Build an arbor,
4. Build a wood bench,
5. Build more garden boxes, and
6. Give your suggestions to Justin.
Please contact Justin Thompson at thompsonju at gmail.com if you would like to plant in the garden and if you would like to help construct something for the garden.