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Garden sprouts at Milwaukie City Hall


To signal support for community gardens and emergency preparedness, three city of Milwaukie employees teamed up with members of Milwaukie Community Gardens last month in building a new garden at City Hall.

About a half-dozen people built the raised bed along Main Street with materials donated from Milwaukie Lumber. Kim Olson, a prolific gardener and frequent volunteer at the Friends of the Ledding Library Plant Sale, donated herbs and vegetable starts for the plot.

The bounty from Milwaukie’s new garden will be donated to local food-bank outlets in need of healthy, organic vegetables. But, in the eyes of participants, it also provides food security for regular citizens in case of an emergency.

“Should something happen, Milwaukie residents will have their own public source for fresh produce rather than have to go forage,” said city spokesman Grady Wheeler.

For volunteer Mary Weick, being a part of Milwaukie Community Gardens was a way of fostering the reality that food does not grow in grocery stores. She points out that events following a large disaster could easily wipe out all possibility of food delivery to Milwaukie for a long time.

“Citizens need to pay attention and wake up,” Weick said. “And, when they do, they just might find out how much fun it is to be outside gardening and taking some responsibility for where one’s food comes from.”

As Milwaukie works toward citywide emergency preparedness and community resiliency in the face of a disaster, Weick thought that a small City Hall garden could be a perfect public statement of the city’s support of private and community gardening. A few months ago, she brought the City Hall Garden idea to City Manager Bill Monahan, who reportedly was “very enthusiastic” and asked for a proposal to sketch out the idea.

Milwaukie Community Gardens, a small group of volunteers, has been working for about three years to foster the creation of — and now with this latest — three community gardens in the city.

“We hope that by seeing how beautiful a garden can be, more citizens will be motivated to start their own garden or join a community garden,” Weick said.