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Robinwood Station adds community garden beds to property
by: VERN UYETAKE Lisa Clifton, from the Robinwood neighborhood, gets her hands dirty while building raised garden beds at Robinwood Station – a recently renovated fire station that is sprouting a garden.

Despite the chill in the air and sporadic showers of snowflakes, volunteers at the Robinwood Station had spring gardening on their minds Jan. 16.


Thanks to a grant, volunteers and a group of 19 from AmeriCorps showed up in force to construct garden beds at the new community center, a recently renovated fire station located at 3706 Cedaroak Drive.

Robinwood neighbor Lisa Clifton - the sustainable multifamily community project coordinator for Clackamas County - has been involved with the renovation of the community center. And last year, when the Friends of Robinwood Station began to discuss landscaping the property, Clifton suggested installing native or edible plants.

'I felt it needed to be a space where food could be grown,' Clifton said.

So, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day last year, Clifton and her daughter went looking for a service project for which to volunteer, and the Robinwood Station came to mind. The two decided to plant strawberries along one edge of the property.

'That was kind of our start,' Clifton said, proudly showing off the newly added pear trees, the apple tree and the blueberry bushes near the station.

And, just like the fruit, the idea of a garden started to grow.

Granting permission to share food

Helping make her edible landscaping dream a reality, Clifton said persued a grant from Clackamas County's Healthy Eating Active Living program. She and Friends of Robinwood Station chair Randall Fastabend wrote the grant application and were awarded $7,660 for the project.

The Friends of Robinwood Station used those funds to build a variety of raised garden beds, and a neighbor donated lumber as well.

A couple of the beds will be raised higher off the ground so neighbors in wheelchairs can more easily reach plants. The group is also working with a nearby apartment complex to donate four additional raised garden beds for its residents.

'It could be a place for them to participate and grow food,' Clifton said, adding that a number of people in the neighborhood are unemployed and could use homegrown fruit and vegetables.

Fastabend is enthusiastic about the garden project, saying, 'I think it's fantastic. It builds on what we are already doing and establishing. It shows the validity of the space.'

Lara Jones and Rob Loucks, representatives from the Confluence Environmental Center, were also on-hand Jan. 16 to help the volunteers. Confluence Environmental Center is a nonprofit organization working to bring the environmental movement to lower-income communities. It was awarded a three-year AmeriCorps grant through Oregon Volunteers.

Although West Linn is not the typical lower-income community, the garden bed project meshes well with the organization's mission, Jones said.

'Food justice is really important,' Loucks said, explaining that communal gardens allow fresh produce to reach those without backyards. 'Food is just such a great way to get people together.'

While it is yet to be determined who will get to use the beds, Clifton and Fastabend anticipate the community coming together and enjoying the bounty of their hard work.

To work on defining the role of the garden beds, the Friends of Robinwood Station will hold a meeting tonight, Jan. 19, at the station at 7 p.m. Its members are looking for people interested in growing organic food to join their team.

For more information about Robinwood Station, visit www.robinwoodstation.org.

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