City's smallest community garden grows on Division Street
You might walk right past it.
But just stop — and squat — and you'll find sprouts and buds blooming on Southeast Division Street in a spot where only weeds once grew.
The four-by-six feet plot must surely be Portland's smallest community garden, located outside Artifact Creative Recycle at 3630 S.E. Division St.
The "Mother Nature Approved" patch was planted this August by Leah Meijer, who has owned and operated the resale business since November, 2013.
"It gives back in a very simple way," she said. "We wanted to do something that had more purpose to it, that would bring people together in a way that spoke to our mission and our values."
Right now, the nature patch is sown with peppers, marigolds, cauliflower, lavender and mint, but Meijer hopes to keep adding to it with kale, basil and other plants, depending on the season.
The raised bed was built out of pressure-treated wood by Joshua Ryan, a local plant guru.
Meijer says anyone can take food to eat or add edible plants as well.
"We definitely have individuals experiencing houselessness who are neighbors to the store, and we are continually trying to figure out ways to be good neighbors to them," she explained.
Growing up in Portland, Meijer spent years working at her mom's business, Village Merchants, which is located a mere four blocks away on Division Street. The Tiny Garden Project replaces a weed-filled bioswale surrounding a no parking sign.
She says one of the best parts of owning her own business is interacting with residents and regulars, who come to the shop for its creatively-repurposed furniture, home decor, art, clothing, shoes and accessories.
"People want to be a part of this store because we're all just people sharing what we know, what we find," Meijer said. "I've found a wonderful community on Division."
The store hosts an Artifact Funday Flea on the last Sunday of each month, where everything costs a dollar and the proceeds and leftover merchandise are donated to a different charity. Last month's cash-only sale benefited an immigration and refugee rights nonprofit called Innovation Law Lab.