Take Action Now! Portland Community Gardens Under Threat of Closing

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Portland Community Gardens Potentially Closing

Dear Fellow folks,

Many of you may know that after thirty years, the Portland Parks Dept. is considering eliminating the Portland Community Gardens program.

For those of you that work with low-income folks, you may realize that the Gardens provide a wonderful and critical opportunity for those willing to work, to provide a lot of fresh food for their families without relying on food stamps.

For those of you who work in the enviromental sector, you may realize that the Parks Dept. spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to water, mow, and spray Portland Public Parks, which are not very ecologically diverse, at all- yet the Community Gardens are maintained by volunteers, and provide an all organic, unsprayed, diverse ecosystem which provides vital habitat for many birds and butterflies.

Oregon is one of the hungriest, poorest states in the nation. Please contact the Portland City Council and Mayor Potter, and let them know that we need the
Commmunity Gardens more than ever.

You may send a message to all of them at once through City Clerk Karla Moore-Love at this e-mail address: kmoore-love@ci.portland.or.us
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I Can't Let This Happen! What Can I Do?

Call the following people:

Mayor Tom Potter - 503.823.4120
Director of Parks and Recreation Zari Santner - 503.823.7529
and the city commissioners:
Sam Adams - 503.823.3008
Randy Leonard - 503.823.4682
Dan Saltzman - 503.823.4151
Erik Sten - 503.823.3589

and tell them you want to keep the community gardens program.

OR you could write them an inspiring letter or email (tips and facts below).

Tom Potter, Mayor Sam Adams
Commissioner of Finance and Administration Commisisioner of public utilities
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 340, 97204 1121 SW 4th Ave. Room 220
Phone: (503)823-4120 Portland OR. 97204
E-mail: mayorpotter@ci.portland.or.us commissionersam@ci.portland.or.us

Randy Leonard
Commissioner of Public Safety
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 210, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4682
E-mail: randy@ci.portland.or.us

Dan Saltzman
Commissioner of Public Affairs
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 230, 97204
Phone: (503)823-4151
E-mail: dsaltzman@ci.portland.or.us

Erik Sten
Commissioner of Public Works
1221 SW 4th Ave, Room 240, 97204
Phone: (503)823-3589
E-mail: erik@ci.portland.or.us

Zari Santner
Director of Portland Parks & Recreation
1120 SW 5th Suite 1302 Portland Or. 97204
pkzari@ci.portland.or.us

Write a Letter to the Editor:
The Oregonian
1320 SW Broadway
Portland 97201
or to any other newspaper of your choice) with personal stories or anecdotes about the value of community gardens.

Attend the Public Budget Meetings!

COMMUNITY BUDGET FORUMS. Open to the public and open for public comments.

MONDAY FEB, 28TH 6-8PM THURSDAY MARCH 31ST, 6-8PM
kAISER TOWN HALL MT. SCOTT COMMUNITY CENTER
3704 N INTERSTATE AVE. 5530 SE 72nd
Take interstate max (yellow line) Take bus #14 or #10

PARKS BUREAU BUDGET WORK GROUP HEARING SCHEDULE. All budget hearings are open to the public and public testimony will be taken.

MARCH 8-6:30-8:30PM-PENINSULA PARK COMM. CENTER-700 N. INTERSTATE AVE.
MARCH 9 - 2-5PM - ROSE ROOM - CITY HALL
MARCH 10TH - 2-5PM - ROSE ROOM - CITY HALL

Click the link below to see the Portland Parks and Recreation 2005/6 Budget Process Findings.

Under Service Priorities please note that alll 3 groups ranked Community Gardens as a lower priority.
http://www.parks.ci.portland.or.us/Budget/Budget.htm

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Notice From the Portland Community Gardens Program

Thank you for your concern about the future of Portland Community Gardens.

Decisions about funding and some other matters have not reached their final stages yet, though the Director of Parks and Recreation is also reorganizing the entire bureau, and some of those changes have already been implemented. Major decisions can be made by the Mayor and Commissioners, should they decide to act.

What we do know is that Parks and Recreation has proposed cutting about a forth of our budget next fiscal year. This will eliminate the two part-time temporary employees and the use of alternative service work crews, support for our children's garden program, the Produce for People program that feeds the hungry, our gardening classes, events, demonstration projects, liaisons with other groups, coordination with garden mangers for work parties and other events, and, most likely as a consequence, most of the substantial help we receive from volunteers. Parks and Recreation proposes to eliminate the remainder of our budget, i.e. the entire program, the following year.

For information or comments, contact our supervisor, Kathleen Murrin, (503) 823-1603, or Parks and Recreation [Karen Loper or Sarah Bott] at (503) 823-PLAY, or the City Commissioners [ kmoore-love@ci.portland.or.us ].

If you are interested in participating in the decision-making process, you might contact Friends of Portland Community Gardens - Tess [257-2042, tess@pcez.com], or Bill [494-5477, cepurnaw@ohsu.edu].

Mac McKinlay
Portland Community Gardens
(503) 823-1612

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IDEAS FOR KEEPING THE COMMUNITY GARDENS PROGRAM ALIVE AND WELL …. SURVIVING THE 2005-06 BUDGET PROCESS

Portland Parks & Recreation proposes eliminating the Community Gardens Program which has served Portland for 30 years. Friends of Portland Community Gardens is working to prevent program closure! We need the help of each person in the wider community who feels strongly about community gardening. It's time for a groundswell of public support.

WHAT CAN I DO?

Right now, the single most effective step is to write a personal note to both Mayor Tom Potter and Zari Santner, the Director of Parks & Recreation.

Your letter will be most helpful if it includes personal stories, reflections, or photos which show what the gardens mean to you or how gardening enriches urban life. Be candid. Be direct. Be persuasive. Be real.

Write postcards; write letters; write again and again. Include a snapshot or two. Weave a story. If you don't garden a CG plot, but cherish the program, let these folks know why!

OTHER POSSIBILITIES:

Letter writing is very important! Do it now and often.

Some other ideas which you, your neighbors and friends could undertake now.

· Put up a sign on your lawn or window saying "Save Community Gardens".
· Put up a sign in your vehicle: "I love community gardens --- save em".
· Create and wear a button about community gardens.
· Write a letter to the editor stating the importance of community gardening.
· Attend each of the public budget hearings (look for announcements in the media) and speak publicly about community gardening.
· Go to the nearest community garden and attach a love letter to its fence.
· Garden Managers: create a huge banner to hang on the fence of your garden, in
co-operation with the neighborhood. Attach colorful ribbons or eye-catching decorations to bring attention of drivers and passers-by.

SOME FACTS TO HELP YOU IN STATING YOUR CASE:

3,000 people directly work the gardens each year; over 900 plots were worked last season; all 32 garden managers are volunteers; 12,000 pounds of produce were donated in 2004 through Produce for People; the monetary value of all produce raised in 2004 is estimated at $500,000; 310 families are currently on the waiting list for garden plots; the Parks Department 2020 Vision Report of 2001 stated "there are too few community gardens to meet citizens'needs".
(Sponsored by Friends of Community Gardens, February 1, 2005)

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The facts of the garden programs

The Community Gardens Program is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year

3,000 people directly work the gardens each year
1/3 of the 3000 people served by Community Gardens are Youths

60-120 children enrolled in summer and school programs (varies from year to year)

Over 900 plots were worked last season
310 families are on waiting list for garden plots, 30% over available spaces

All 32 garden managers are volunteers

12,000 pounds of produce were donated in 2004 through Produce for People

The monetary value of all produce raised in 2004 is estimated at $500,000

The Parks Department 2020 Vision report of 2001 stated "there are too few community gardens to meet citizens' needs.

The garden fees for 2005 have increased 28% from 2004

7,400 volunteer hours were logged in the gardens

Many of the gardeners are low-income and represent the diversity of the neighborhoods in which the gardens are located.

Gardens provide approx. 15 acres neighborhood open space.
Gardening provides active exercise, healthy food, outdoor community gathering center.

The community garden program is good for Parks - Our program is known nationally as one of the best

Program is supportive and an example of healthy, sustainable living

What the city council thought about Community Gardens in 1975: The 1975 city ordinance (ordinance #139598 March 13, 1975) creating the Community Gardens program declared a state of emergency and stated that that it is being passed " for the immediate preservation of the public health, peace and safety of the City of Portland."

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HERE ARE SOME FACTS TO HELP YOU IN STATING YOUR CASE:

Basic facts:

29 gardens

3,000 gardeners

996 plots

76 raised beds for disabled gardeners throughout the city

310 families are on waiting list

All 32 garden managers are volunteers

60-120 children enrolled in summer and school programs (varies from year to year)

Friends group has been in support role for 25 years. Raises $10,000 per year for the Children's Gardening Program.

7,000 volunteer hours/ year in the overall Community Gardens program

Gardens benefit the community:

Program directly involves approximately 3,000 gardeners each year

Approximately $500,000of food value was grown in 2004.

Over 12,000 pounds of produce are donated through Produce for People to local food banks last year. (Double the amount donated the previous year.)

Gardens provide approx. 15 acres neighborhood open space.

Gardening provides active exercise, a remedy for the current obesity epidemic.

All of the gardens are organic and provide learning opportunities for safe, environmentally-friendly growing processes.

Gardeners stay within the City because of the gardening opportunities, rather than fleeing to the suburbs due to lack of open space for growing food.

Gardens provide quiet recreation and stress reduction.

Community gardeners generate good will among the neighborhood and relationships often lead to a broader interest in local civic life, as well as neighborhood improvements.

Community gardens have been shown to lower crime rates in their areas through active civic involvement and more "eyes on the street".

Gardens provide healthy community gathering spaces

Gardeners are of all ages, abilities, incomes and ethnic groups

The Children's Gardening program provides school and summertime educational opportunities in a healthy, fun environment
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Response from Portland Parks and Recreation to an Email Request to Save the Gardens

Mark,

Thank you for sharing your concerns with us about the proposed reduction in
the Community Gardens program.

Please keep in mind that the proposals PP&R submitted to the mayor and City
Council are just the first stage in the budget process. The decision-making
process has transferred out of our hands. All of the cut proposals submitted
by City bureaus will be considered by City Council and the Mayor and it is
up to them to decide what cuts remain as proposed, what will change and what
the final budget will look like. Therefore proposed programmatic changes may
look very different when Council approves the final budget this spring.

The proposed reduction in the Community Gardens comes in two steps: the
first creating some immediate savings and the second giving some lead time
so that Community Gardens is not just cut abruptly. The first proposal
retains the Community Gardens program, but eliminates the other organized
programming offered through Community Gardens. Examples of organized
programs are: the Children's Garden Program, habitat plantings, fruit tree
cultivation and the Produce for People food donation project. The second
proposal asks for one year of one-time funding so that the program
coordinator has time to identify alternative funding sources so that the
program can continue. The purpose of this two-step approach is maintain the
core of the community gardens program while the helping the program achieve
financial self-sustainability.

Over 95% of our resources and services remain intact. Our park system is one
of Portland's jewels and our focus is on the long-term stability of the
system. We are anticipating that budget reductions from the General Fund
will continue next year - that is why we are making some tough choices now.
By being proactive, and taking a long-term view, our current budget:

*Protects and strengthens the health of the system, including core
infrastructure and key programs
*Focuses on the whole system and our ability to continue to meet the needs
of the majority of our citizens
*Aligns our strategic view with available resources
*Ensures the long-term sustainability of Portland's park system

Regards,

Eva Schweber

-----Original Message-----
Sent: Thursday, February 24, 2005 8:40 PM
To: pkbudget@ci.portland.or.us
Subject: Comm. Gardens

Please do not cut the Community Gardens budget. Over 3,000 citizens depend
on the food they produce from their plots to supplement their food costs. I
have gardened a plot for 10 years now and save over 75% on food costs from
the food i grow.

Cutting the budget will also end the donation program for the Oregon Food
Bank where thousands more hungry Oregonians receive healthy organically
grown food. This would be a travesty especially in the hungriest state in
the country.

There has to be a way to keep the gardens program intact!

Mark