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Foster-Powell Community Garden takes shape

by: RITA A. LEONARD - Foster-Powell Community Garden Coordinator Vicki Wilson stands at the entrance to the neighborhoods new community garden, on ODOT property at S.E. 62nd and Powell Boulevard.Inner Southeast’s newest community garden, at S.E. 62 and Powell Boulevard, is beginning to become a reality. Under the leadership of Coordinator Vicki Wilson, the Foster-Powell Community Garden has acquired volunteer interest and has received donated supplies – such as garden tools, soil, bark dust, compost bins, pots, plant stakes and building materials.

This month, September, the Oregon Tradeswomen’s Association will bring a crew of apprentices to build an 8' x 10' tool shed and sixteen three-foot-high raised beds, each 4' x 8'. The Garden site, formerly the location of a gas station, was paved over in asphalt after the business moved. ODOT, the owner of the property, does not want the area de-paved, which is the reason that raised garden beds are planned. Volunteers are working hard to keep the site clean, orderly, and inviting. “We’re planning to expand work parties in the fall, when it's cooler,” says Wilson.

Wilson remarks that the idea for a community garden began to sprout in 2011 as a project of the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association. This April, approval arrived from the Oregon Department of Transportation for the use of their lot, and the garden is now sponsored by Southeast Uplift. Brooklyn Community Garden Coordinator Lee Kamrass has offered considerable help, inasmuch as the Brooklyn Garden is also located on ODOT property.

“We've accomplished a lot during summer weekend work parties,” says Wilson. “We’ve put up a temporary sign and notice board at the entrance gate, and begun clearing weeds, blackberries, and debris. We're working on securing a permanent water source through a small grant we received from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. “Right now, we’re transporting water by truck, but we’re setting up an on-site water-containment system. Kermit Meling, our ODOT liaison, is helping us to firm up our plans. You can see our proposal and our progress online at: www.62ndgarden.wordpress.com – or you can learn more in person, if you come to volunteer!”

Wilson tells THE BEE that she is very pleased with the Community Garden site, just across Powell Boulevard from 7 Dee’s Plant Nursery. “This is one of the only entrances to our neighborhood from a major thoroughfare – Highway 26,” she says. “Having a community garden here calls attention to the fact that we care about our neighborhood. We’re planning to eventually add more permanent signage and develop a decorative entry mural. We’re hoping that the professional look to our garden at this entry point will demonstrate that we watch out for each other in our neighborhood: ‘Let’s keep it clean and green’! “At this point, what we really need is more volunteers,” she continues. “We also need good-quality wood for building what’s needed here, a source of good soil and planting mulch to fill the raised beds, and soil amendments of all kinds. We hope to have a Grand Opening party later in the year to celebrate our good fortune.”

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