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Planting Communities is a nonprofit based in Woodburn that focuses on community and school gardens. When we started Planting Communities, we didn’t think that it would sprout as quickly as it did. by: SUBMITTED - Ian Niktab is president and co-founder of Woodburn nonprofit Planting Communities.

Initially, it was a network of individuals, but it quickly grew into an official tax-exempt organization. We have several goals in Planting Communities: education, access to local healthy food, community and sustainability. Many of these goals are still in our hearts and minds, but furthermore, in our work.

In the schools, we saw a need for hands-on inquiry, outdoor learning spaces, school gardens and student driven projects. In the school gardens, we hoped to sow the seeds of wonder, curiosity and observation in the students that explored them.

We also saw an opportunity to build connections between the community and schools. Over the years ,we have received amazing help and support form Al’s Garden Center, Long Bros. Building Supply, Woodburn Public Works, Marion-Polk Food Share and countless Woodburn School District employees.

These are just a few of the community groups that have helped us establish our roots in the education world. Today, we have three elementary school gardens and one middle school garden. Our goal is to create similar spaces for students in all of our community’s schools.

In addition to educational spaces, we also focused our efforts in the greater community. We imagined if we created community gardens, they wouldn’t only beautify our city, but also serve as a place to further strengthen our community.

Thus far we have helped four community gardens become established. All are unique and all have done an excellent job of building social capital through garden work parties and providing families a place to grow their own food.

Our largest community garden is the First Presbyterian Church Community Garden which has been in the Independent for its work. This garden, thanks to several communities, key volunteers and organizers has grown into a healthy, beautiful community garden. Several other gardens similar in size have been seeded in other locations around our town.

Knowing that many of our neighbors may be struggling with food insecurity, we decided to find one possible solution. Planting Communities would find spaces for them to grow their own food. By providing them space, water, tools, plants and some garden guidance, in the end, they would have some food in their belly and a sense of accomplishment. We desired to create not only a healthy community but a resilient one as well.

For those folks unable to tend a garden, we decided that in exchange for the space, these same families would help maintain a “food bank” garden lot, most of which is donated to the AWARE Food Bank. In doing this, we would build community, give back and support ourselves in the process.

Currently, we are growing like a weed with projects. There are school gardens that need some TLC over the summer while the kids are away. With each school garden, we are creating a space for an After School Garden Club leader, someone who wants to share the joy of science and gardening with students. The community gardens have space and could always use a helping hand, especially around harvest time. Not only can we work together to beautify our city but we can plant and grow healthy vibrant communities.

Contact us via email at planting This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or find more information at plantingcommu nities.blogspot.com. You could always “like” us on Facebook to stay informed as well.

We hope to see you in the garden!

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