Monday, June 6, 2011

Growing Food, and Community, on the Oregon Coast

Garlic at Taft 7-12

For the past 2 years I have been volunteering to help create a garden and greenhouse program at our local middle/high school, Taft 7-12 in Lincoln City.

The kids' tomato plants
It has been inspiring, interesting, challenging and at times exhausting-- but always rewarding.  My privilege in this role is to work with young people who have a lot on their minds, besides the usual challenges of schoolwork and teen romance.  Many of these students have complicated lives at home, and it can be daunting for them to find the energy to merely learn the standards, much less excel.
Cover crop to enrich the soil

Besides providing them a place to learn about plants, soil, food, science, biology, math, etc... my goal is to give them a safe place for creativity and expand their world.  Give them a reason to get outside, which they do very little.  Give them a place to discover things that are unexpected, like a frog that was hiding by the greenhouse, what fennel tastes like, or the pride of harvesting tomatoes they grew from seed.  Simple joy.
The UCC Congregational Church garden near NW 25th

Our garden is not alone in Lincoln City, providing a place for folks to gather and learn about growing food. Community gardens are powerful in their singular ability to unite people who would otherwise never meet, much less become friends.
Some ambitious peas at the UCC garden

People of all ages, different cultures, some with kids, all belief systems... who come together with only the common bond of growing food for themselves or family.  Community gardens provide the company of others, and in exchange they might impart some long-forgotten tomato wisdom.
Lincoln City Community Garden on NW 21st
Master Gardener demonstration garden- compost bins
 and water collection system.  This garden is located at
Oregon Coast Community College (north).
Brand-new cloche garden at the Food Pantry, built by master gardener Rick Anderson.  Adding fresh produce to the food bank offerings.
Happy artichokes and strawberries at the Taft Community Garden,
 located one block east of Hwy 101 near SW 51st
(at the public parking lot).
 Visit one of Lincoln City's six community gardens to grow food, find inspiration, gardening knowledge, or maybe just enjoy nature in the city.  For an even larger garden community, visit Kitchen Gardeners International and expand your world.

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