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Hillsboro grows a new community garden

Hillsboro residents just can’t seem to get enough space to grow.

In late August, the Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department opened its newest community garden, making a total of four sites around the city.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - The city of Hillsboros latest community garden is located right next to the Miller Education Center at 440 S.E. Oak Street. The new site is the citys fourth.

The latest location, called David Hill Community Garden, is right next to the Miller Education Center (MEC) — an alternative school for middle and high schoolers — at 440 S.E. Oak Street. The new site represents the first time the city of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro School District have partnered to create a community garden.

The Oak Street site will make an additional 49 garden plots available to city residents, but already, just a month after the garden’s dedication, about half of the plots have been snatched up by eager gardeners.

“People are signing up. There is lots of neighborhood interest,” said Lori Prince, outdoor recreation manager for the city of Hillsboro.

Susie Swanson is one of those who has already secured a garden plot.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - One of the new garden plots at the David Hill Community Garden is already brimming with new sprouts. The new garden provides 49 plots, and so far about half of them have been reserved by eager gardeners.

“I moved into a house among fir trees a couple years ago, and I can’t have a garden there because there is no sun. My home is just not conducive for gardening,” said Swanson, who is co-owner of Hutchins’ TV & Appliances, which is just about a block from the new garden.

Swanson said the location of the new garden is a huge plus for her.

“It’s so close that I can just walk over at lunch to water or pull weeds,” she said.

Swanson rented a 20 foot by 20 foot plot at a cost of $50 for one year. She plans to plant tomatoes, peppers, onion, peas and herbs, “and maybe a few flowers as well.” She added that she is so eager, she plans to do some planting before winter sets to see if she can grow any late-season veggies.

“I am thrilled after not having a plot for a second summer and not having access to a garden area,” Swanson said. “I don’t know who originated the idea, but I’m delighted the city has thought about it. Whoever did that, thank you very much.”

Prince said there is strong demand for the garden sites, which are available to Hillsboro residents only. The three existing gardens are all sold out and have lengthy waiting lists.

“Because of the wait list situation, residents are limited to one plot per household, so everyone has a chance to grow,” Prince explained.

According to Prince, the remaining plots at the new garden will likely be gone by the end of October.

“It’s just a matter of time. Once people realize there is an opportunity, they’ll take it,” Prince said.

Prince added that the gardens provide additional benefits beyond simply allowing people to grow some of their own food.

“Having a community presence in the neighborhood gets people aware and connected, and one of the program’s goals is to make neighborhoods more cohesive.” Prince said.

Students at the adjacent school also benefit.

“Students at Miller Education Center have been participating in a horticulture class, and the development of a community garden will strengthen their skills and the community’s connection to MEC,” said Stan Esselstrom, the school’s principal.

Development of community gardens was listed as a community goal in the Hillsboro Vision 2020 plan. The community garden master plan has set a goal of opening at least one new garden per year until 2015.

“The garden is a gathering spot for a lot of folks who want to grow in more ways than one,” said Prince.

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