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Community Garden in Errol Heights opens to urban gardeners

by: David F. Ashton, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, and Paul Tourville of the Parks and Greening Committee in the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association, say they’re both thrilled the new public garden is ready and open.

As promised in an article in the March BEE, the Errol Heights Community Garden was completed and opened to 'urban gardeners' this season; it was dedicated on May 20.

'We're happy to be opening our 42nd Community Garden here in Inner Southeast Portland,' welcomed the Laura Niemi, coordinator of Portland Parks and Recreation's Community Gardens Program.

'We don't have very many garden spaces to serve this geographic area,' Niemi told THE BEE. 'We're trying to make spaces available so people will have a garden within a mile or less of their house.'

As it turned out, the Errol Heights garden, which is located in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood, offers about 35 plots of varying sizes, from 100 sq. ft. up to 400 sq. ft.

'We have about 25 families who have already registered for plots,' Niemi reported. 'And, we have another 10 or 20 on the list who said they're interested.'

Paul Tourville, who is on the Parks and Greening Committee of the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association, recalled how he'd met Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz - standing in for Parks Bureau Commissioner Nick Fish at the garden opening.

'At a business association meeting several years ago,' Tourville told the assembly gathered for the dedication, 'she was sitting next to me, and I hadn't yet seen her name tag. I started talking about how it's taken so long to develop Errol Heights Park, and how frustrated many of were about it.

'It turned out to be Commissioner Amanda Fritz; and she said she'd look into it for us.'

Picking up the story, Fritz added, 'I went to Commissioner Nick Fish's Parks staff, and asked how development could get moved from the 'back burner'. I think my asking about this project, and saying that it sounded really great, and that Brentwood-Darlington needed it, did help get this project rolling.'

Volunteer Jacob Sherman told how Portland State University students did the physical labor to prepare the garden, and also wrote the grants that brought in $5,000 for the project. 'Dedicating this little project right here, can be a catalyst to start the transformation of other parts of our neighborhood.'

The scent of grilling Otto's Sausages' hot dogs filled the air, signaling the end of the brief formal program - and the beginning of a barbecue luncheon.

INFO BOX:

Errol Heights Community Garden

4841 S.E. Tenino Drive

Laura Niemi Program Coordinator

For more information, call 503/823-1612

Online sign-up: www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?c=39846