It’s time! This Saturday is the big day: the grand opening of Helensview Community Garden at Helensview School. Let’s celebrate!

Here are the details about the event itself, and how to sign up for your own community garden plot.

Where: Helensview School, 8678 NE Sumner (map)
When: Saturday, March 9, 2013, at 12 noon to 2 PM
What: At noon we’ll have some food & socializing, while gardeners who have placed their reservation online will be invited to select their plots. At 12:30, there will be a few speakers, including City Commissioner Nick Fish. Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who helped at one of our work parties last fall, will also join us. At 1 PM, Oregon Tilth will provide a gardener training.

Plan of Helensview Community Garden

Caption: Final design and location of the Helensview Community Garden within the Helensview schoolyard

How to reserve a garden plot

It’s not too late! The approx 90′-by-125′ garden has enough room for about 30-40 plots available for rent by the public, including raised bed plots. Part of the garden — about 800 sq ft — is set aside for use by Helensview School and their students. About 20 gardeners — mostly from Sumner neighborhood itself — have already signed up online. Here’s how you can too:

  1. Go to the Garden Plot Request Form on the Portalnd Community Gardens website.
  2. Fill in the requested information, and then in the 1st Community Garden Selection field, select Helensview.
  3. Click Submit.

No payment is required when you reserve a plot online. Payment is handled at the garden opening or by mail after that. Garden rental rates range from $10 per year for a 5′-by-10′ plot up to $85 per year for a ‘double plot’ (20′-by-20′). Financial aid scholarships are available from Portland Community Gardens for those who qualify, and Sumner Association of Neighbors (SAN) has also approved $105 in scholarship funding to help Sumner residents who want to garden at Helensview.

Our November work crew
Caption: Our November work crew in one of two raised beds

But wait, there’s more

Thanks to a tip off from Sandra Lefrancois at Central Northeast Neighbors (CNN), SAN has also obtained 50 packets of organic seeds for all gardeners at Helensview Community Garden, including the students of Helensview, from the gardening and CSA non-profit Grow Portland. Everything from Arugula to Turnips. (That’s right, no zucchini.) You can see a list of the seeds (PDF) on the Grow Portland website.

Next Saturday, March 16, will be the official orientation by Portland Community Gardens for Helensview gardeners. They will answer your questions, including information about how we can best design and fund the social area included at the north end of the garden. Several ideas have been floated already, including fruit trees, covered meeting area, and trellises for grapes and other climbers.

And finally, an avalanche of thank yous

This project moved much much faster than our neighborhood association ever dreamed. The stars aligned There are so many people to thank, so let’s get started:

  • Kris Persson and Helensview School for setting on the right foot by being fair and open in setting their conditions for use.
  • Superintendent Dr. Karen Fisher Gray and business manager Mary Larson at Parkrose School District, for encouraging the project, affirming their conditions, and then following through by negotiating terms.
  • Parkrose School Board for their explicit approval in October 2011.
  • Laura Neimi, director of Portland Community Gardens (a unit of Portland Parks and Recreation).
  • Emily York in Commissioner Nick Fish’s office, coordinator for the 1,000 Gardens program.
  • Lissa Adams of the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District, and their grant approval committee.
  • Lora Price and Friends of Porland Community Gardens, who offered guidance and reassurance, and then also provided a grant of Ames gardening tools.
  • Susan Novrotsky, of the new Sumner Street Community Garden (nearby at NE 47th and Sumner), who let us ‘borrow’ wholesale from their grant application.
  • Erica Martin, our intrepid steering committee chair, and steering committee members Isabel, Katana and Rochelle.
  • Everyone who came out to help at the two work parties last fall, including Holly from Hands On Portland, and our ninja work party coordinator Kathy from Portland Community Gardens.

For further background about this project, see the previous articles:

The newsletter for winter 2013 (750 KB PDF) for Sumner Association of Neighbors (SAN) in NE Portland, Oregon, is now available online!

Sumner newsletter for winter 2013 This issue began delivery this weekend. Thanks to Patricia who masterminded the vastly improved design & who suggested we give the newsletter a real name.

Thanks also to our many intrepid neighbors who volunteered to deliver the newsletter to your very door handle: Marcy, Janet, Cyril, Henry, Karen, Katherine, Colin, Tish, Molly, Erica, Heather, Katana, Jay, Emily, Cindy, Ronda, Jacob and Joan (the newsletter delivery ringleader)!

Items in this issue include:

  • Grand opening the Helensview Community Garden on Saturday, March 9
  • Finalizing our neighborhood plan at our Tues, Feb 19 meeting
  • Calendar of events through April, including litter patrols and stewardship at Johnson Lake on Saturday, April 6.
  • Notes from October and November meetings
  • A full 2013 calendar (PDF) as an insert
  • And much more!

We had another great turnout Saturday for our second Helensview community garden work party. Portland Community Gardens and Hands on Portland lured some of their resourceful garden ninjas. Even Portland city Commissioner Amanda Fritz joined us!

The raised beds will be avaliable for low-mobility gardeners to rent. The ‘cover crop’ is good for two reasons: One, it keeps the compost from running off during the winter rain. Two, the cover crop (beans, Kathy said, I thinkwinter pea and rye, per Holly) are rich in nitrogen and so they’ll enrich the soil when they get plowed under before the garden’s grand opening on March 9.

2nd Helensview garden work party 3 Nov 2012
Caption: The ‘before’ group photo. That might look like nasty muck, but it is sweet compost for the garden plots.

2nd Helensview garden work party 3 Nov 2012
Caption: Kathy, with Portland Community Gardens, demonstrating how to sow the seeds for cover crop

2nd Helensview garden work party 3 Nov 2012
Caption: Sheree, Heather, Carrie, and John raking soil over the sown seeds

2nd Helensview garden work party 3 Nov 2012
Caption: Nieghborhood garden ninjas John and Chris putting together one raised bed

2nd Helensview garden work party 3 Nov 2012
Caption: Tanner, Brennan, Carrie, and Alec putting together the other raised bed

2nd Helensview garden work party 3 Nov 2012
Caption: Getting a raised bed in place. (Do not try this at home: That thing was heavy.)

2nd Helensview garden work party 3 Nov 2012
Caption: The ‘after’ group photo

Thanks to Laura and Kathy at Portland Community Gardens (PCG) for scheduling and running this event. Thanks to Holly and John at Hands on Portland for helping to coordinate the event & bringing in Brennan, Carrie and Alec. And thanks to all our awesome neighbors who volunteered under the threat of rain — John and Katherine, Erica, Tanner, Chris, Cort, Heather, Laura and Sheree!

Reminder: You can sign up today for a garden plot at Helensview community garden. Sign up now, but individual plots won’t be chosen until our grand opening and garden party on Saturday, March 9, 2013. PCG offers scholarship for gardeners who cannot afford the rental fee, so sign up and mark your calendar!

Here are just a few photos from the Halloween party last Friday, Oct 26, at Helensview School in Sumner neighborhood in NE Portland.

Sumner neighborhood Halloween 2012

Sumner neighborhood Halloween 2012

Sumner neighborhood Halloween 2012

Sumner neighborhood Halloween 2012

Sumner neighborhood Halloween 2012

Thanks to our awesome co-sponsors:

Thanks also to our awesome neighborhood volunteers: Vern, Eugene, Janet, Henry, Cyril, John, Karen, Heather, Erica, Laura, Ron, and Ronda and her girls. We even had help from our CNN friends: Alison, Wayne, Jo, Ruth, Nancy, and David and Kaitlyn.

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