On a recent warm August afternoon, Marc Willwerth explained to Mallory Metzger how to encourage more vigorous leaf growth from her basil plants by removing the plants’ tiny flowers. It was just the type of friendly interaction — gardeners meeting and sharing tips with each other — that occurs spontaneously at the Sabin Community Garden, adjacent to the Sabin Hydro Park at Northeast 19th Avenue and Skidmore Street.
Metzger, who moved to Portland from Bend earlier this year and is renting a third-floor apartment in the Irvington neighborhood,
The Sabin Community Garden is among a number of community assets featured on Sabin Community Association’s website. This time of year, most of the Sabin Community Garden’s 50-or-so well-tended plots are lush with plants and ripe produce ready for harvest. Willwerth, a professional landscaper, admits his day job has gotten in the way of faithfully tending the 20-by-20- foot community garden space he’s rented for a number of years.
"I hope to do better next season,” Willwerth says as he picks a handful of almost 100 garlic plants. Earlier this summer, he harvested rhubarb and asparagus, and soon his ‘Russian banana’ fingerling potatoes will be ready. “In general, I like to grow things in the community garden that don’t require a lot of hands-on work.” He also grows a variety of herbs and tomatoes in a vegetable garden at his Sabin home. “But this garden is such a wonderful community resource,” he adds.
The Sabin Community Garden opened in 1995 and was expanded in 2008. All plots were rented for this year, but anyone interested can sign up for next year’s season, which runs from March through October. Because demand for community garden plots is high within inner Northeast Portland, there often is a waiting list.
Plots rent for $21 a year for a 100-square-foot space, $42 for a 200-square-foot space and $85 for a 400-square-foot space. Rental fees pay for land and water. Gardeners provide their own tools, plants, seeds, soil amendments and other supplies. Gardeners are required to use organic growing methods, and each gardener must volunteer 6 hours a season on general community garden upkeep.
For more information about the Sabin Community Garden or to sign up for a plot for next season, call 503-823-1612 or go to www.portlandoregon.gov/parks and type in “community gardens” in the search field.
— Susan Goracke