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UCC invites public to help create 'welcome garden' on Main Street

NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: STEPHANIE HAUGEN - Construction Manager Paul Edwards shows how two garden boxes in the Forest Grove United Church of Christs Welcome Garden will be located on this patch of lawn to the left of the churchs Main Street entrance. The other two will go on the grass to the right of the entrance.Paul Edwards got the idea from his wife, Stephanie, an avid gardener, after she had a stroke a year ago.

“She’s been unable to garden,” he said, because it was too difficult to get her out into the garden in a wheelchair. She has since graduated to a walker.

So they proposed the idea of creating accessible garden boxes at the Forest Grove United Church of Christ, where he is a member. Pastor Jennifer Yocum liked the idea and dubbed it the “Welcome Garden.”

Now church staff and members are inviting any interested community members to help construct the garden outside their Main Street entrance downtown.

The construction is set for Earth Day weekend, Friday and Saturday, April 22-23.

“Pull out your work gloves and grab your hammers and shovels to help us put our values of radical welcome, generosity and abundance into physical form, to build accessible garden boxes for the Welcome Garden,” said Yocum. “This unique project will allow people with various physical limitations to participate in the joy of gardening.”

There will be four different-sized garden boxes, including one for people who use walkers, one for people in wheelchairs, one for standers and one for sitters.

And the garden contents will be open to the neighborhood, Edwards said. “We’re pushing for veggies,” he said. “Whoever needs the veggies, they can take ‘em.”

Donations of building and planting materials, as well as cash to support the project are welcome. The expected cost is $1,700 and it recently received a $500 grant from the Forest Grove Sustainability Commission.

Edwards is also hoping some people will be willing to loan tools ranging from tape measures, safety glasses and levels to an impact driver, 16” beam saw and sledge hammer. A complete list for all needed materials will be posted at fgucc.org.

Contact church secretary Elena Parker for general information about the project (503-357-9121) or Edwards, who serves as the construction manager (503-568-9680) for more specific inquiries. Potential volunteers can contact Stephanie Edwards (503-568-4847) or Jobina Lacock (971-330-7025).

A blessing and dedication ceremony for the Welcome Garden will take place Sunday, May 1, at 11 a.m.