Recently, I had opportunity to help organize a community garden from "the ground up" in my picturesque community of Forest Grove, Oregon. We were able to obtain a 1.5-acre plot of land donated by the city for use for garden plots. The effort was amazing the way things unfolded. The organizer, a retired magazine editor named Walt Wentz, posted notices around town asking for volunteers. He also met with city planners and obtained appropriate permissions to set up the garden. Volunteers came forward to do everything from rototilling the gardens to setting up our Web site at www.fggardens.org to setting up the irrigation system. Everyone from business owners to a troop of cub scouts came forward to help. Over 200, 25'x10' garden plots became available and all the organizing and set-up has been done entirely by citizen volunteers. And, materials have, by and large, been donated by community businesses, if not offered at large discounts.

Now that the planting is underway, participants are discovering that they are learning a lot about gardening from each other. It seems there are almost as many gardening techniques as there are people! The garden has become a great social gathering place where people not only commune with nature and grow their own food -- they make friends and learn a lot as well.

My efforts have involved writing content for our Web site, obtaining and setting up some donated cedar raised beds from NaturalYards Raised Beds, organizing online photo albums documenting our efforts, and arranging our press opportunities. In addition, I have chronicled our processes -- from conception of the gardens to complete set up of the gardens -- in hopes that by telling people about our great efforts, they'll be motivated to set up gardens in their own communities. If you're interested in reading our How To guide for setting up our community gardens, please see the attachment.

Plots rent for a nominal fee of $30 per growing season with discounts given to gardeners who qualify for food stamps. We are also growing crops for the Oregon Food Bank and have a "free table" where plant starts and excess crops will be provided for those in need. Our 22-inch high 4'x6' cedar raised beds are available for handicapped gardeners who can access them via wheelchair.

Holly Tsur

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Holly, you might like to connect with Lili, whose husband is the owner and chef of a restaurant called L'Etoile which uses 95% local, organic ingredients. They are involved in changing how kids eat by showing them they have options, so they spend their days off at a local middle school bringing in lots of fresh and natural ingredients and teaching kids how to cook things like vegetable stir-fry, potato gnocchi, and spinach crepes. They have also put a garden in the school grounds so they can participate in the miracle of watching a seed grow into a plant and then bear fruits and vegetables - that they will then cook and eat! I am sure you would have much in common to talk about.

Lili is also working with member Araceli creating a video project about female genital cutting, called I Am Not Cut. Araceli is currently on a trip through Uganda and Kenya interviewing women for the project. You can find her at: http://worldpulse.com/user/2021

Lili can be found at: http://www.worldpulse.com/user/1668

Holly,

Your gratification and deep sense of contribution comes through in this post. Having a community garden plot in Portland for some years prior to owning a home and having my own garden was a great experience. Sustaining ourselves by the food we grow is coming into awareness for the American population. There is a group, Outrageous Gardeners, on Pulsewire http://www.worldpulse.com/pulsewire/groups/7296. We haven't generated dialogue or sharing. Maybe you could join and post to the group and get something going there?

It's motivating to hear about your work. I want to provide some surplus crops we have this summer to the Oregon Food Bank.

Great to hear from you yesterday. Glad you checked out Red Aphrodite...it's been an insightful journey. My artwork/graphic designs have all been self generated-no training. After leaving a full-time teaching job a few years back, I was hungering to nurture my own creativity. From that wish, Red Aphrodite was created. I've learned a lot in the process. The designs are being sold in many Portland stores and shops- this city does in many ways support local.

I am curious to hear how Pulsewire might integrate into your journey maybe by volunteering?

We'll keep in touch. Laura

Love the name, Outrageous Gardeners, Laura! Visions of giant sunflowers dressed up as garden goddesses that greet you as you come through the gate comes to mind. I'll try to check into this group as time permits and see what I can dig up.

So inspiring to hear that you started your enviro-friendly stationery business after leaving your teaching job. As I have found myself jobless in the midst of this worst economy since the Great Depression, I have been doing a lot of re-evaluating of where I might like to land in my next career endeavor. I think it's very brave of you to have taken a direction that serves to "nurture creativity". Especially your own. So often, we women break our backs to nurture others but neglect ourselves.

Actually, to answer your question about how Pulsewire might integrate into my own personal journey: I see joining Pulsewire as a great way to network with like-minded, worldly, intelligent, fascinating people who like to focus their attention broadly, and with an interested eye on humanitarian and environmental causes. I have also applied for a volunteer position with World Pulse. We'll see where that leads. I have been focusing my job search on mission-driven, non-profit businesses in hopes that my next work environment will be much more rewarding than that of my past jobs. I have been told that volunteering often leads to full-time employment at such organizations. At 55, I think it's time to be more concerned about whether I love my job than how much money I make. Sure, it would be optimum to have a lucrative salary and a satisfying job. But, in this poor economy where companies seem to be cleaning house right and left and getting rid of experienced workers so that they can pay their replacements so significantly less, I expect I'll need to be willing to drop my salary expectations regardless of whether I find a satisfying job or not. So, the job might as well be satisfying, right?

Holly

That sounds like fun! Hearing of people getting together just to garden, talk to each other....How come every day can't be like that? Ha ha...Well, thanks for posting, and spreading goods news around. See you.