Could more space be found for Clackamas community gardeners?
Clackamas Community College is planning to expand its maintenance yard into the Oregon City campus community gardens this spring.
The renters of two out of the 15 gardening plots receiving eviction notices contacted the college to renew their membership by the Dec. 31 deadline.
"We are able to relocate them with no trouble," said CCC spokeswoman Lori Hall.
College officials were planning to reach out one last time to the remaining 13 who presumably gave up on gardening or did not feel it was worth moving perennial plants and amending soil in a new location.
As previously reported, CCC's Campus Services will encroach on about 13 percent of the approximately 1-acre space for community gardening on campus. However, the gardening community eventually could end up with no net loss of space, according to a local environmental advocate.
Jerry Herrmann, founder and director of the Environmental Learning Center from 1974 to 1994, has been talking with CCC Dean of Campus Services Bob Cochran to push for an expansion of the community garden at a currently vacant nearby site between the Horticulture Department's organic farm and Inskeep Drive.
"It's an area that needs to be cleaned up anyway, and the infrastructure is already there for water and road access," Herrmann said. "The organic garden component that the students run could tie in beautifully with an expansion of the community garden on the other side of Inskeep Drive from the ELC."
Cochran said the first step would be to see if there are any vacant gardening plots this spring.
"If there's demand for additional plots, then we'd have the conversation about expanding the community gardens," Cochran said.
Herrmann said the college could do a better job getting the word out that it runs the only community gardening facility in Oregon City. Its community garden plots are approximately 20-feet-by-20-feet and in total cover a bit less than an acre after the expansion of the maintenance yard. For just $40 per year, the college provides the land and access to unlimited water during the dry months. Gardeners are required to bring their own hoses and gardening tools.
In an effort to serve gardeners better, CCC is currently conducting a survey to see what types of services they need or what would entice them to various educational and community events held at the gardens.
Herrmann said the college also could consider creating more demand for gardening plots by helping with heavy equipment. Decades ago, Herrmann helped rototill all the garden plots every year to make them easier for gardeners to use. With the college having since taken over management of the gardens, individual gardeners are now responsible for their own tilling.
"There's something good that can come from all this," Herrmann said.
Herrmann said he understood why Cochran saw the need to expand its maintenance yard to the west due to the growth of the campus services department and additional equipment purchases.
With everything that Cochran has to manage on the three CCC campuses, Herrmann was not surprised that neither the CCC Board of Education nor the college's Bond Advisory Committee was notified to help plan for the maintenance-yard expansion in the context of the college's various priorities after a $90 million bond approved by voters in 2014. Expanding the maintenance yard ended up being an administrative decision last year.
"We had a drawing put together, and notified Associated Student Government and [garden coordinator] Michelle Baker of the need to contact the gardeners about the project," Hall said.
Cochran said the idea to expand CCC's community garden was only newly brought to his attention by Herrmann.
"It's not a topic of a conversation we've had before," Cochran said. "It would require a lot of investigation on our part, and there's no funding for it."