Community Gardens Ready for Gardeners

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Community Garden 1
In May, volunteers prepared the Umatilla Community Garden for planting. Plots are still available and help is needed to plant seeds.
PHOTO BY JENNIFER COLTON

This week, local residents began putting plants in the ground at the two gardens, and space is still available.

After years of discussions, the gardens finally took root last year with support from Umatilla-Morrow Head Start, Good Shepherd Medical Center and the Healthy Communities Coalition.

For a $10 application fee, anyone can apply to receive a 12-foot-by-12-foot plot in a community garden in either Hermiston or Umatilla. In Hermiston, “Lovin’ Spadefuls” is across from the child care center at Good Shepherd Medical Center; Umatilla’s community garden is located behind the Head Start location on Pine Street.

Community Garden 3
An arbor stands ready next to the Umatilla Community Garden while Wes Perin runs the tiller to prepare the site for the growing season.

Last weekend, volunteers participated in a work party at the Umatilla garden, preparing the plots for planting by cleaning out vegetation, removing rocks and installing drip lines. Trees and blueberry bushes have been planted along the edges of the Umatilla site.

“One of our biggest goals is to just beautify and maintain the gardens this year,” community garden coordinator Chelle Hankinson said. “We have some new ideas, some fun things to make it more appealing to the eye. We want people to use their imaginations.”

Last year, Umatilla’s garden benefited from a grant from Fiskars’ Project Orange Thumb program. This year, both gardens will rely on donations and volunteers to operate.

Local individuals and businesses, such as Elmer’s Irrigation and Home Depot, have chipped in this year, and Good Shepherd Medical Center and the city of Umatilla will donate water.

“We couldn’t do this without these people,” Hankinson said. “It’s a lot of work in the beginning, but it’s so rewarding.”

From senior citizens to Head Start students and WIC clients, the gardens have attracted a range of participants.

“You see families here together, growing their own food, and there are benefits with that,” Hankinson said. “It’s a great opportunity, and we really believe in it.”

Community Garden 2
Chelle Hankinson, left, and Marsha Perin work to install drip lines at the Umatilla Community Garden.

The Umatilla community garden includes 25 plots; Hermiston holds 60.

Organizers will continue to take applications until the plots are full or June 1, whichever comes first.
Applications for garden plots are available at: Umatilla Morrow Head Start/WIC, Mirasol Family Health Center, Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, Hermiston Senior Center, OSU Hermiston Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and the Good Shepherd Education Department.

Applications should be returned to the Head Start/WIC office.

Interested in helping, but not wanting to take on the responsibility of a plot? Volunteers are also welcome and encouraged.

“We’re doing this all by volunteers,” Hankinson said. “Even if it’s just for a day, just for an hour, every minute is valuable.”

For more information, call Hankinson at 541-564-6878.