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Fire station doubles as salad bar in Forest Grove

NEWS-TIMES PHOTOS: CHASE ALLGOOD - There appears to be some onions mixed with the kale in the Forest Grove fire station's garden boxes. More types of veggies will be coming soon as gardening season arrives.A year or so ago, Forest Grove Fire & Rescue Fire Marshal Dave Nemeyer learned that students at the Forest Grove Community School were building and planting garden boxes around town (with permission) in places accessible to the public, including curbside lawn strips.

The school’s “take a bite” program grows vegetables in places where hungry people — or any people — can pluck and eat them. Nemeyer asked the students to build a garden box for the fire station at the corner of 19th Avenue and Ash Street.

The students built two. “They came in at the start of this school year and filled them with soil for us and planted the kale and beans,” Nemeyer said.

“We are going to be putting things like tomatoes, onions, peppers, etc. in them in the coming weeks once garden season becomes more timely.”

Nemeyer knows the garden boxes won’t provide regular meals for a whole family, but “our hope is that folks who need a little help with food will take what they need.”

Frankly, he said, he’d be happy to see anyone pluck something from the boxes — maybe someone on the way home from work grabbing a kale leaf or two just to make a healthy salad for that night.Fire Marshal Dave Nemeyer's son picks a couple leaves of kale after visiting his dad at the Forest Grove fire station. The Nemeyers have their own Take a Bite garden box at their B Street home.

Or maybe the boxes will inspire families “to grow their own healthy food,” he said.

“We haven’t seen a ton of use from them, but it’s a new thing and kale isn’t something everyone likes, I suppose,” Nemeyer said.

His one request of harvesters: Take only what you need and watch out for the younger plants.

Other garden boxes sit near the Bank of the West parking lot and at the community school’s Back Yard Garden on Main Street just south of 19th Avenue.