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Become an urban farmer

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Become an urban farmer

Urban Gardening
We have seen garden beds popping up all around Mid-county. From front yards to schoolyards and churchyards, many of your neighbors have dedicated a portion of their property to raising fresh fruits and vegetables. Not only will these families and other recipients of the produce enjoy the full flavor and benefit of fresh, local foods, but many will save money on their grocery bills as well.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, every $100 spent on vegetable gardening yields between $1,000 and $1,700 worth of produce. Estimates indicate that each square foot of space dedicated to backyard crops will produce a minimum of a half-pound of food.

Area gardens are yielding tomatoes, salad greens, root crops, berries, cucumbers, squash and a myriad of other fruits and vegetables. Some surprises are cropping up as well.

From Kathleen McDade, Parkrose Heights:

Beth McDade admires a volunteer pumpkin in her urban garden.
Courtesy Kathleen McDade
“We have a surprise pumpkin patch in our garden. Our landlord decided to put in a driveway where we used to grow veggies, so he built us a new raised-bed garden and put both the garden soil and the contents of the compost bin in it.

Lo and behold, the raised bed began sprouting squash plants, which turned out to be pumpkins. Apparently the seeds from our Halloween pumpkins had not decomposed yet. We've got a couple of surprise tomato plants in there too.”

From Katrina Kellmer, garden coordinator, Parkrose Heights Community Garden
This spring, the Parkrose United Methodist Church at Northeast 111th Avenue and Knott Street broke ground on a community garden consisting of raised beds and some in-ground plots. Some space was made available to local residents, and some has been tended by volunteers to supplement local food baskets.

Katrina Kellmer, Parkrose Heights Community Garden coordinator takes a break from weeding to pose in her garden. Kellmer is planning a Harvest Festival celebration for Friday, Oct. 2, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
A harvest celebration is set for Friday, Oct. 2 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the church. Celebrate the first season of this community garden with beneficiaries and volunteers including Iglesia Del Senor Jesucristo Vida Abundante, David's Harp, Oromo Church, Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors and Parkrose United Methodist Church.

Native American Shaman Buckley McWilliams will offer a special garden blessing.
This event is potluck, so please bring a dish to share.

From SnowCap Community Gardens:
SnowCap Community Charities continues to expand its community gardens. All gardeners that use space in the beds located behind Rockwood United Methodist Church, 17805 S.E. Stark St., donate a portion of their harvest to the SnowCap pantry. In addition, some of the beds are dedicated to providing fresh vegetables to SnowCap client food baskets.

To extend the growing season in its gardens, SnowCap has invited Master Gardner Diane Liefeld to teach a winter gardening workshop on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 9 a.m. to noon. Topics will include a demonstration of how to use special coverings to protect plants from the cold and tips on how to keep garden soil active during the chilly rainy season. Liefeld will also talk about soil preparation, pruning and what to plant for winter harvest.

This will be a free workshop, but it is limited to the first 20 applicants. Contact Kari James, special projects coordinator at SnowCap, at 503-674-8785, ext. 37, or to sign up.

If you are an urban gardener in mid-Multnomah County, please share your gardening stories and photos with us at, or mail your submissions to 3510 N.E. 134th Ave., Portland, OR 97230. We will publish on a space-available basis in the October issue. Submissions must be received no later than Tuesday, Sept. 15.
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