by: Rita A. Leonard Brooklyn neighbors gathered to plan the future of the Brooklyn Community Garden. From left: Caty Skogland, logo designer; Lee Kamrass, Garden Committee Chairman; and Jackie Wilson, designer.

Fifteen Brooklyn neighbors came to a November 7th meeting to help plan the practical future of the Brooklyn Community Garden. Ms. Lee Kamrass, owner of Small World Plants nursery on S.E. Mall Street, recently assumed chairmanship of the Garden Committee. At the meeting she presented research and invited input on how to proceed with the project, first initiated by Jacob Heil.

'We need to determine what we want, what we need, and how much it will cost,' explained Kamrass, who added that she'd like to include a small fruit orchard at the site, which is immediately next to McLoughlin Boulevard, on land owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation, which has given permission for the garden to use the space.

'First, a soil test will reveal whether we should have in-ground plots or raised beds. The garden needs to be designed with longevity in mind. Therefore we should choose a partner organization, and proceed through all necessary permits for site design, water, excavation, access, and construction.'

ODOT helped summer work parties clean and clear the site. Advice was given about earth-moving, construction of a tool shed and stairs, irrigation, and concrete and tree removal. Kamrass spoke with contacts at Portland Parks and Recreation, Southeast Uplift, and 'Grow Portland' in her research of funding opportunities, design parameters, and operating expenses.

After reviewing resident input and available options, a majority of those in attendance at the November 7th gathering decided that a partnership with Portland Parks and Recreation would most likely be the sensible next step. Among the benefits would be that PP and R would complete all preparation work to meet city code, and would manage the site. They would also cover all annual expenses for the small community garden - including liability insurance, water, maintenance and repairs.

Registration and reservations for the estimated 20 plots would occur through PP and R's on-line system - although the Brooklyn community would have a small advantage in having 'first choice' of plots. PP and R reserves the right to approve all projects that would impact the garden, but is eager to help the neighborhood as part of its planned expansion of Community Garden sites in the city.

In the meantime, Kamrass made clear that garden volunteers are always welcome, although she suggested that they coordinate through her first (e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) to avoid duplication of efforts. The earliest completion date for the new Brooklyn garden could be in the Fall of 2012, if no problems intervene. Already, volunteer designers have worked on a garden logo and site design.

Many attendees of the Brooklyn meeting volunteered ideas and assistance; for construction, fencing, garden tools, and de-paving, as well as offering sources for mulch, grants, and possible ADA access - via a neighbor's driveway. Under Kamrass's leadership, plans for the Brooklyn Community Garden are moving forward.

'Gardening is my passion,' smiled Kamrass. 'We really need to do this right, so it will serve the community for a long, long time.'

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