Community Gardens Give Everyone the Chance to Grow

By Published On: October 25th, 2016

Hundreds of people in our community are growing healthy food at community gardens. Community gardens are open to everyone regardless of their gardening experience. Carol Burks, volunteer garden coordinator at Whittam Community Garden, is an example that all it takes to grow your own food is access to soil and water and a willingness to try.

Carol always thought that she had a ‘black thumb.’ She says this while standing next to her abundant garden plot growing a forest of tomatoes and peppers that she will soon turn into 20 quarts of tomato sauce. Beside the tomatoes are enormous pumpkins and just beyond are newly planted fruit trees.

“People say to me ‘I don’t know anything about gardening,’” said Carol. “I know exactly how that feels. Growing food seems hard if you’ve never done it, but it’s really easy. Anyone can garden.”

Carol sees that a garden can have a positive impact on a community. Most of the people who have plots at Whittam Garden live in nearby mobile homes or apartments. The community garden is the only space that many people have to grow food.

“One day a gentleman came to the garden and asked me how he could get a plot. He had just lost his job and when I told him that it was free his whole face changed. He was so grateful,” said Carol. “He received plant starts and a garden plot and he took off. He was here all summer with his kids growing food and working in the garden.”

Because of your support, the Food Share supports a network of 63 community gardens across Marion and Polk counties. Gardeners receive seeds, plant starts, equipment, soil, water and access to resources so that they can successfully grow healthy food.

More than 800 gardeners had plots at community gardens this summer, growing enough produce for 270,000 meals. Gardeners can keep the produce that they grow, and many choose to donate some to the Food Share or a local Simonka Place Women’s Shelter in Keizer.

Whittam Garden, and other community gardens, grow because of support from community members. Whittam Community Garden has received support from Sunrise Rotary Club, Bielke Farms, Copper Creek Mercantile and the Church on the Hill and other community members like you.