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Volunteer stewards at Johnson Lake on April 6, 2013

Caption: Two pairs of volunteers on the trail at the Johnson Lake natural area on April 6. The stewardship event was co-sponsored by SAN, Portland Parks (who owns the natural area), and the Columbia Slough Watershed Council.

For a very nice account about the lake and the cleanup event, see East Portland’s Johnson Lake gets TLC the on the East PDX News website.

For more background about Sumner’s involvement with Johnson Lake, see this August 2011 backgrounder and our August 2011 meeting notes.

Join us for the next stewardship event at Johnson Lake on Saturday, September 30.

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Any grand opening is a big deal. As fitting for the great good luck we’ve had from the start of this project, the Helensview Community Garden opening in Sumner neighborhood in NE Portland was blessed with grand weather and a grand turnout.

Gardeners selecting their new plots at the Helensview Community Garden grand opening

Caption: Gardeners selecting their new plots at the Helensview Community Garden grand opening

Sandwiches donated by Subway at Cascade Station

Caption: Sandwiches & fixin’s donated by Subway at Cascade Station (next to Target). Attendees were surprised — and very pleased — to see Subway.

Scott thanks a long list of partners and neighbors

Caption: Sumner neighborhood chair Scott Somohano stands at the shed entrance (right) to thank a long list of partners and neighbors

Kris, principal of Helensview School

Caption: Helensview School Principal Kris Persson spoke about how the students will use the garden in their curriculum — and in their lunches

Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish

Caption: Commissioner Nick Fish, who oversaw the Parks Bureau during the city’s drive to add 1,000 Gardens, spoke about how the Helensview garden was the last project completed under the initiative — and the fastest from start to finish.

Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz

Caption: Commissioner Amanda Fritz also joined us for the celebration — just as she did for a work party last fall. However, this time she did not wear her trademark zebra-striped boots.

Bryce from Oregon Tilth demonstrating top gardening practices

Caption: Bryce from Oregon Tilth demonstrated top gardening techniques

Kids playing

Caption: A youngster expressed his approval for the new garden (& otherwise enjoyed the sunny weather)

Most of the garden is booked but there are still a few plots available. Several of the attendees commented favorabily about the size and potential of the 11-acre site for future school/park style development. Not to mention its grand view of Mount St Helens.

A final note: Thanks to Dan and Heather for taking photos!

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About 50 people turned out for the grand opening of Helensview Community Garden on Saturday, including Portland City Commissioners, Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz.

Helensview Community Garden, plots selected at grand opening Not only was the event a big draw — thanks to gorgeous weather and lots of sandwiches donated by Subway at Cascade Station (next to Target) — the selection of plots by gardeners who registered early became a friendly land grab.

As shown in the illustration (larger view), only the plots highlighted in yellow are unclaimed. A few gardeners who registered before the opening did not attend Satruday and so have not yet selected their plots, so the availability is even fewer than shown. Those gardeners will have a chance to select their plots at the gardener orientation onsite this Saturday, March 16. (Time, I think, is 2 PM.)

We’ll have photos from the event posted soon. In the meantime, we’ve gotten some press, including these items in the Oregonian and on KGW TV.

How to sign up

Signing up is easy:

  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. Garden rental rates are $21 per year for a  ‘half plot’ (10′-by-10′) or $43 per year for a ‘standard plot’ (10′-by-20′). There might be one chance to combine two standard plots into a double.

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.

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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:

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