Bybee Community Garden: A tucked-away treasure
Community gardens in Inner Southeast Portland come in all shapes and sizes; most are official. Here's one that has just spontaneously appeared to brighten up unused PBOT land.The Bybee Community Garden, as it's known informally, is a small easily-overlooked treasure that follows an extension of S.E. 37th Avenue from Bybee Boulevard two blocks south to Ogden Street. The land belongs to the City of Portland as a street right-of-way, but is not in use. The community garden there is neither overseen nor maintained by Portland Parks & Recreation.
According to neighbors, the garden has existed for a bit over a half decade. A home-owner next to the undeveloped land, Savai Bennet, decided to clean up an area that had become a dumping spot. She and another neighbor, Lee, cleaned up the trash, and Lee rototilled it. Bennet, who has since moved, organized the land into plots for a community garden. A stone labeling the spot was installed two years ago. It is unclear whether PBOT even officially knows their unused right-of-way is being used this way.
After the garden was set up along the footpath from Bybee Boulevard south to Ogden Street, a group of Portland State University students worked on the extension north from Bybee to nearby Berkeley Park. The students worked on a permaculture project there to encourage natural vegetation. They planted Asian pear trees, gooseberry bushes, and other native plants. However, that site has pretty much gone back to nature, unless someone decides to trim the overgrowth.
Neighbor Donna Giguere revealed that a professional landscaper helped design the garden; and another neighbor, Armin Hinterwirth, helps by attracting Mason bees. Garden plot minders have come and gone, depending on their levels interest. Water must be hauled in to the site – that's a labor-intensive commitment.
The unpaved footpath features plots and trees on either side, and there's a small rest area under more trees. Some lush crops remain from last year; and newly-prepped plots sport neat borders and upright vine climbers. The footpath leads travelers past features such as discarded plant stakes, a plastic owl, wandering bumblebees, and a pesticide-free sign. Such details add personal touches to this narrow path to Eastmoreland's very unofficial Bybee Community Garden.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.