A bare dirt lot at the corner of Franklin Avenue and 9th Street will soon become the first community garden on city property and the first community garden to fully comply with the American with Disabilities Act, said organizers.
Crews from Cascade Natural Gas spent the day at the site Tuesday lowering a gas line—one of the last steps necessary to level the land in preparation for turning the long-time barren lot into a resource for neighbors in a relatively low-income area of the city.
The gas company has prioritized moving the line in an effort to help keep the community garden project on track.
“I’m really grateful for those guys dropping that line, 'cause they didn’t need to,” said Howard. “They could have put that project off three to five years.”
It’s just one of the breaks city of Bend Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Howard has gotten in her five year effort to make the garden a reality.
Two years ago, Howard was told the garden would never become a reality because the city wanted to sell the land. But after some research city officials determined it would not be permitted to do that because the land was originally purchased with system development charges. The city also found it could save money because a garden would cut down on watering and mowing expenses—the lot had been covered in only grass for decades. All that meant Howard got the green light earlier this year.
“I’ve been doing a happy dance for months,” said Howard, “because this is something I’ve wanted for five years.”
The next steps for completing the garden include leveling the land, purchasing and planting about 20 trees, installing bike racks and fencing and building raised beds.
Much of the work has or will be done by volunteers.
“We’re going for a total savings element,” she said.
A landscape architect completed plans for the site pro bono. A landscape architecture class at Bend High School found sources for all the items needed for the garden and provided a range of cost and quality options for each. A local boy scout will build the raised beds as part of his effort to become an Eagle Scout. And life skills students at Bend High School will grow starts for the garden.
By next spring, everything should be set for neighbors to begin growing their own food.
“[I’m] over the moon,” said Howard.