he day of the annual Portland Community Gardens Tour was predicted to hit nearly 90 degrees, but as we jumped off the bus at the first stop, it was still a cool and breezy morning. We started the tour at Sewallcrest, a southeast Portland site in the Richmond neighborhood, that is one of the earliest gardens, dating back to the year the program began—1975. It seemed a virtual food forest—every single one of the 50 plots seemed to be bursting with flowers and vegetables. So many plants were represented: corn, tomatoes, poppies and cosmos, grapes and berries. Some grown in terraced raised beds, some on trellises, some with row covers to maintain temperature and sunlight. It was clear that these folks took growing food seriously, though they were not too busy to talk to the inquisitive tour group.
community garden tour
Sewallcrest Community Garden
I met David Hata, who has been gardening here since 1977 (the first two years the plots were sold out, so he took a plot at a community garden a little further away). He said there wasn’t enough room on his city lot to grow all he wanted, so this 400 square foot plot just three blocks from his home, filled the void.
A few rows away was Kathleen with her beautifully appointed rectangle of flowers and vegetables. A birdbath sat in the center, and a lilac bush she received for a Mother’s day gift 18 years ago, borders one edge.
“It really has no business being here,” She said of the lilac bush, but she keeps it trimmed so it doesn’t invade her neighbors’ space.
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