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Community gardeners on Oregon City campus lose more than a dozen 20-by-20-foot plots

Clackamas Community College had a surprise for community gardeners on its Oregon City campus when college officials sent out an eviction notice this month for more than a dozen 20-by-20-foot plots.

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Clackamas Community College gardener Gail Borchard was lucky to run into old friend Susan Ziolko who was willing to donate some of her currently reserved plot space to Borchard.Starting in January, 15 plots will no longer be available for public use to make way for an expansion of the college's maintenance department. CCC's Campus Services will encroach on about 13 percent of the approximately 1-acre space for community gardening on campus. This acre doesn't count the organic farming area for CCC's horticulture students.

"I was shocked that they gave such short notice," said Gail Borchard, who has been gardening for about five years in one of the community garden plots slated for removal. "It's a shame that the college is removing — rather than adding — community garden space, because this sort of thing is gaining in popularity."

CCC currently has no plans to allow for more community-garden space in any of its three campuses. CCC spokesperson Lori Hall pointed out how the college has several construction projects slated for the upcoming years.

"By the end of the bond construction season there will be three new buildings on the Oregon City campus and one new building at the Harmony community campus," Hall said. "With the growth of facilities come growth of the support of those facilities. To meet the needs of a growing campus, the maintenance department will require an expansion of the maintenance yard adjacent to the community gardens."

PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Clackamas County Master Gardeners, certified by Oregon State University, work several of the plots at Clackamas Community College and donate thousands of pounds of food annually to Oregon City church pantries.CCC community garden coordinator Michelle Baker said there were not enough vacant plots to move all of the gardeners who were affected by the maintenance-yard expansion. Gardeners have until Dec. 31 to sign up for a plot by emailing Baker at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Current gardeners who have not used their plots will be asked to make progress or give up their plot by March 31.

"Based on response and availability, [affected] gardeners who have been with us the longest will have first priority for available plots," Baker said. "All others willing to move will be placed on a waiting list for the next available open plot."

Since receiving the Nov. 3 eviction notice, Borchard has been studying which sites are available and spending extra time at the community gardens, going so far as to practice her aerobics there in order to maximize her chances of running into other gardeners. Borchard was fortunate enough to run into old friend Susan Ziolko. Both women are in their 60s and have daughters who went to Holcomb Elementary School.

"I'm ready to give up one of my three plots," Ziolko said.

Ziolko loved how tidy Borchard's plot was. Ziolko said more people are living in apartments and smaller living arrangements that don't have room for gardening.

"The natural and organic gardening trend is gaining in popularity," said Ziolko, who recently retired at the sustainability supervisor for Clackamas County.

Borchard is moving two raspberry plants, six marionberry plants, eight blueberry plants, 40 strawberry plants and miscellaneous flowers.

It would have been impossible to replant all the berries at home, Borchard said. She'll have family members volunteer to move the plants since she has health problems that would prevent her from moving them all herself.

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