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Woodstock Plant Sale succeeds on several levels

by: ELIZABETH USSHER GROFF - On the day before the annual Woodstock Plant Sale, the north room of the Woodstock Community Center became a sea of green.  Helping with the preparations were, from left: Barbara Beck, Master Gardener; Jan Elliott, and daughter Karen Krettler, who over the years have donated thousands of hostas, peonies, and tomato plants; and Shelly Keach, who prepared for the sale with passion, persistence, and pizzazz.The superficial view of a neighborhood plant sale is that it raises money and beautifies gardens. When you dig a little deeper, you see that it may do much more.

On Saturday, May 11th, the 22nd annual Woodstock Neighborhood Association pre-Mother’s Day plant sale came close to fulfilling its goal of raising enough money to help fund a year’s worth of custodial work for the Woodstock Community Center.

The Friends of the Woodstock Community Center (FWCC) and the WNA express their gratitude for the thousands of plants that were donated by neighbors from their gardens, and then were sold at reasonable prices to other neighbors.

In a formal partnership with Portland Parks & Recreation, FWCC and WNA help keep the Center open by raising custodial funds, and doing some of the building maintenance themselves. As a result, year ’round, the Center is available for classes, meetings, social events and private rentals.

A deeper, less tangible, but personally fulfilling function of the plant sale is that it introduces neighbors to each other. Gardeners gather to share their knowledge and passion for plants, and to do the hard work required to identify, organize, label, set up, and sell. In that process they become acquainted, and make lasting social connections.

The person who brings these volunteers together each year is Terry Griffiths, Woodstock Neighborhood Plant Sale Coordinator. In early spring she begins contacting neighborhood gardeners, knowing that they are doing a spring cleaning of their garden beds – dividing plants, re-arranging them, getting rid of extras. “From the neighborhood, for the neighborhood,” is her mantra when soliciting plant donations.

Every year new people come forward to join the stalwarts in donating plants.

“We even had a guy who lives at SE 85th [in Lents, way outside the neighborhood boundary of S.E. 60th] bring us a whole load of wonderful plants, because he had seen our plant sale poster at the Mt. Scott Community Center,” reported Griffiths. 2013 poster art was created and donated by Woodstock resident Jennie Houts.

“The $3,300 raised by this year’s sale is a record,” commented Ann Crowder, financial manager of the FWCC. To meet the yearly custodial costs for the Center of about $5,000, plant sale funds are augmented by rental fees from the Al-Anon group that meets at the Community Center each Sunday morning. “We definitely should be able to float the Community Center Partnership Agreement through the coming year,” smiled Griffiths, at the end of the long Mother’s Day weekend sale. “Everyone who volunteered made for an amazing team, these past couple of days.”