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Last week a community garden plan (PDF) for the schoolyard at Helensview High School gained the support of the two school districts that own (Parkrose) or operate (MESD) the 11-acre site.

Proposed location of the Helensview community garden

Caption: The white rectangle shows the estimated size and location of proposed Helensview community garden

The OKs come after Portland officials with the city Community Garden program and Commissioner Fish’s 1,000 Gardens program also provided feedback on the plan and expressed support. A neighborhood steering committee for the garden will hold its kickoff meeting Tuesday, Nov 15, after the regular Sumner Association of Neighbors (SAN) meeting.

A few details about the concept plan:

  • Size: The garden footprint will be about 80 feet by 115 feet (see below). That’s big enough for about 40 individual garden plots plus an 10-foot by 80-foot plot for Helensview students.
  • Location: To avoid other conflict with uses in the schoolyard, the garden is slated for the northwest corner of the 11-acre property (as shown above).
  • Funding: The steering committee will pursue grants from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, and other sources. Funds raised can be matched by the 1,000 Gardens program. Cost estimates need to be determined.
  • Timeline: Dependent on funding. Optimistic scheduling would allow groundbreaking in spring 2012.
  • Construction and operation: The Portland Community Garden program has already committed to managing the construction of the garden, including fencing, water meter installation & piping, and a path connecting the garden with the parking lot off NE 87th Ave. In addition, after the garden is built, Portland Community Garden would manage the Helensview community garden as part of their citywide garden system.

Hvew garden layout In the draft garden layout (see left), the southernmost section would be set aside for instructional use by Helensview High School staff and students. The remain section includes about 40 garden plots — half each 10′ x 10′ and 10′ x 20′. The overall 80′ x 115′ footprint would include room for paths, water spigots, compost bins and a tool shed.

In a 2009 neighborhood survey (44K PDF), Sumner residents ranked “parks and green spaces” as their top priority. As the former Sumner Elementary opened by Parkrose school district in 1960, Helensview represents an important opportunity to re-connect the neighborhood with the school and its new life as Helensview.

For getting us this far, special thanks are due to Helensview principal Kris Persson, Parkrose superintendent Karen Gray and Parkrose director of business services Mary Larson. Thanks also to the Parkrose school board and Multnomah Educational Services District (MESD) officials Barbara Jorgensen and Kelvin Webster for their green light.

For their detailed feedback and support, thanks also to Emily Hicks in Commissioner Fish’s office, Laura Niemi at Portland Community Gardens, Lora Price at Friends of Portland Community Gardens, and Sandra LeFrancois at Central Northeast Neighbors GardenNet.

What’s next for neighbors: SAN will have more updates as we move toward grant funding. We may need to demonstrate ‘neighborhood support’ for a community garden beyond the 2009 survey, so as things develop we have specific requests from you our Sumner neighbors.

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