It is winter now, but spring is on the way.

When it arrives, Lebanon's first community garden will be ready to open for business. Located at Porter Park, the brand-new facility will boast:

  • 30 raised stone planting beds.
  • Six ADA raised cedar beds.
  • 15 garden beds.

All garden beds are filled with planting soil and the site is lit, and fenced, with convenient access to hoses, restrooms, and accessible parking.

"We're well on our way to completion. We expect to have it done in the next couple of months," said City Manager Gary Marks. "We're excited about this project. I believe it's going to help the immediate neighborhood."

Sheryl Casteen, a certified Master Gardener through the Oregon State University Extension Service, will oversee the garden. She will be on hand when the garden opens, will be on site at least once a week to answer questions, and will be available to answer questions from all of the community gardeners.

Casteen has been involved for several years with the gardens operated at Lebanon's schools. In speaking with students, she learned that for many of them, their diets consisted largely of processed foods and lacked whole foods.

She believes the school gardens have done a good job of introducing students, and their families, to healthier choices. The community garden will provide more of these opportunities.

"This is a chance for everyone to eat their own organic, whole foods," Casteen said. 

For those who are interested in having a spot in the community garden, or who would like some advice for their home garden, Casteen is teaching a six-week series of classes at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home. The 2-hour classes will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays in Activity Room A.

Casteen will start with the basics and share information on how to create one's own food garden. The class will be based on an organic approach and will discuss soil, container gardening, and how to pick produce at the right time for maximum nutrition.

The community garden will be organic with no chemical fertilizers allowed. Casteen said the emphasis will be on community.

"This is bringing people together to work together," Casteen said.

Marks said the garden is part of the Cheadle Lake Urban Renewal District and has received support from those funds. The garden also received a $5,000 planning grant from the HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living) Cities Campaign.

Casteen expects the garden to get under way in early April, depending upon the weather.

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