Partners in the garden

All-volunteer garden: Food for the needy

People in Alpine, OR are working together to grow food for the needy of South Benton County. All materials and labor have been donated. This 80 x 100 plot is being facilitated by husband and wife team, Chris Burns and Llyn Peabody who moved to Alpine 15 months ago and immediately saw the potential to turn part of the town's park into a community garden.

"This is different from the usual model of community gardens," says Burns "We're growing food in one big plot (instead of many small ones.) This way we can maximize the use of space and water to grow the most amount of food."

So far the garden is a great success. In just seven weeks, ground has been tilled, prepped, planted and mulched and people are eating the first lettuce and kale from the garden. Over $1000 has been raised through donations and people have donated fencing, mulch, tools, seeds and plants, and their own time to get the garden off to a strong start.

"We've primarily planted good storage crops, and foods people are familiar with," says Burns. "All food that is grown is shared by the volunteers and the surplus will be donated to the Monroe Food Bank, the Senior Lunch Program and other food-support services."

There is a strong educational element as well. Young people (of all ages) are encouraged to participate and gain hands-on experience in growing food. The couple provides a weekly blog too, which gives seasonal gardening tips, ideas for living more lightly on the planet and ways of making your food-dollars stretch further. "We plan to have free classes on canning and other forms of food storage," says Peabody. "We'd like to get the old-timers, who still know these important skills, to step forward and lead them."

The Alpine Community Garden is a demonstration project for the idea of "Stone Soup Gardening". Remember the fairy tale about the strangers who come to town with a magical stone that can make soup? The villagers are mistrusting at first but, as each family adds ingredients to the cauldron, the village ends up making a delicious pot of soup for everyone to enjoy. "If everyone gives a little of what they have, whether that's in time, money or materials, we'll be able to grow food for the many people and families who don't have enough," says Burns. "And that's like a fairy tale come true," chimes in partner, Peabody.

To find out more about the project, go to http://www.AlpineGarden.blogspot.com/ or see this week's article in the Gazette Times at: http://tinyurl.com/n64wwb

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Geoff Taylor says ... on Thursday, Jun 4 at 12:30 AM

Dear Kokopellyn, This is the kind of good news that makes the world keep spinning. It's timely, especially the idea of Stone Soup. Chris and Llyn, keep it up. Up with Alpine. Would be interested in corresponding on garden issues.

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