Portland Community Gardens

The Portland Community Gardens project sought to increase community gardening opportunities in Portland. A scarcity of community garden space combined with an ongoing interest in food security, self reliance, and sustainability led to an Oregon Solutions project to help boost the ability for Portlanders to grow their own food.

Problem

In communities across Portland, people want to grow their own food but don’t have equal access to garden plots. The waiting list for garden plots numbers in the hundreds. Many neighborhoods, schools, and housing developments lack community gardens and opportunities to connect with their food source or each other. With food and gas costs increasing, people want to increase their self reliance and food security as well as build community.

Solution

To make it easy for anyone in Portland, regardless of race, age, income, or neighborhood to grow their own fresh, healthy food through access to community gardens, plots, and gardening opportunities. The project strived to reconnect communities to their food source, to nature, to culture and their greater community through gardening.

Objectives

  • Bring the public, private, and nonprofit sector together to expand and enhance the city’s community garden program
  • Meet current and future demand for community gardens and growing food
  • Define an organizational structure to support community gardens
  • Identify resources to support and enhance the current city program
  • Increase cooperation between city bureaus to remove barriers and reduce costs to establishing community gardens
  • Work with the Portland Parks Foundation to restructure and build capacity for the Friends of Portland Community Gardens
  • Increase food growing opportunities at schools, housing projects, community gardens, and other locations
  • Build a regional food network
  • Collaborate with county, regional, and local government to promote food growing throughout the region
  • Connect gardens to emergency food agencies

Results

  • $1 million in capital funds to expand Portland community gardens
  • New community gardens in Madison, Vestal, Gilbert Heights, Blair Garden, Vermont Hills, Furey Garden neighborhoods (at Zenger Farm)
  • 150 total garden plots added in 2010-2011
  • Expansion of Brentwood Garden
  • City of Portland dedicated $125,000 in the 2011 budget to build new gardens, and additional $100,000 in 2012 budget
  • East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District committed funding for the upcoming Frazer Park and Sumner St. gardens, June Key Delta project, Urban League Garden, St. Johns improvements, and garden education in Cully
  • Growing Gardens built the Parkrose/Shaver Elementary school garden and ten backyard home gardens
  • West Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District committed to budget three school gardens per year
  • Portland Public Schools helped plan two new school/community gardens at Lent School and Clarenden. Now working with Depave at Chief Joseph and James John Schools to construct new gardens
  • Janus Youth Village Gardens doubled the size of their New Columbia garden and now have over 60 gardeners
  • Grow Portland installed a garden in Gresham with another underway in Northeast
  • Portland Parks and Recreation launched an electronic garden plot registration process
  • The Water Bureau helped fund irrigation at Furey and upcoming Frazer Park
  • The Bureau of Environmental Services enhanced their ability to conduct environmental assessments for potential garden sites
  • The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is updating the Urban Food Zoning Code
  • An Americorps placement in 2011-2012 will build capacity for the city community garden program and provide outreach for the Friends of Community Gardens
  • Friends of Community Gardens added new board members, is planning their 25th anniversary event for Fall 201, and fundraising for several 2011-12 gardens

Additional Resources

  • Commissioner Nick Fish: Community Gardens Toolkit [link]
  • Portland Parks and Recreation: Community Gardens Handbook [pdf]
  • Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon: Tips for Creating a Community Garden [pdf]
  • Portland Public Schools Garden Procedures [link]
  • Growing Gardens Organizing Worksheet [pdf]
  • NPLAN: Establishing land use protections for community gardens [link]
  • Public Health and Law Policy: Land use planning for food system advocates [link]
  • Harvest Reports: Community Gardens in Philadelphia, Camden and Trenton [link]

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