I see the demo garden at least twice a week (often more), and that makes it hard to notice significant changes because they creep up on you. Here’s an example: every workday the first thing we do is harvest. It’s easy to think of it as something that has to be done before we can move on to more interesting activities. The thing is, that harvest provides food for quite a few people that are finding it hard to feed themselves and their families. So far this year, the Demonstration Gardens (original + annex) have donated over 2500 pounds of food for those folks. If you count the food that is donated by MGs from their home gardens, we’ve sent over 2800 pounds of food to folks that need our help. OK, maybe it’s just day in, day out work, but that’s a lot of food, and we know it matters to the folks that get it.
If you’re interested in records, we are almost certain to set a record for the most food grown by the Demo Garden in a year. We’ve got a month to go, and even though the harvest is slowing, we are almost certain to outperform 2015, our banner year so far, and to donate a total of over 3000 pounds of food. It helps to remember why we work here - sure, to experiment a bit, to make something beautiful, to spend time with friends, but mostly to feed folks that are hungry. It’s a good feeling.
This is the time of year that we start putting the garden to bed for the winter, and to begin planning for the spring that (thankfully) always shows up. Gardeners are deciding which bed they’d like to design next year, and researching what varieties might be best. Besides the dependable beds in our original garden, we’ll have 12 more raised beds at the annex to plant to vegies - to help feed folks! This year the five beds at the annex have already contributed over 500 pounds to our donations. It’s exciting to think what we might be able to do next year.
With the Annex coming online, it isn’t just vegies we’re thinking about. We’ve got a number of gardens dedicated to perennials and native plants that are already growing, and may more that will be planted in the spring. Even with the limited growth our plants have managed thus far, we received a Silver Certification form the Backyard Habitat folks. They let us know that once our plant have grown a bit, we’ll likely qualify for Gold.
There is, however, and elephant in the room - our greenhouse. As many of you know, we almost obtained a free greenhouse from a Senior Living facility in Vancouver. It wouldn’t have really been free of course, with dismantling, moving, and re-assembling, not to mention permits. After that fell through, we’ve been scouting the various companies that build greenhouses the size we are looking for. The task is harder, because the City of Portland doesn’t recognize Agricultural Buildings. We have to meet the same “specs” that any building would, and that requires what boils down to a top of the line greenhouse capable of resisting 120 mile per hour winds and huge snow loads. As you can guess, that doesn’t come cheap.
After lots of looking and talking, we’ve settled on a company in Aurora, Oregon, Oregon Valley Greenhouses, to build our greenhouse, and have found a local installer who will put it up. We don’t have final figures yet, but it will cost more than our IE Sale profits for the last two years. We’ll get the numbers to the Board of Director for next year’s budget, and we hope you will approve it as part of the 2019 budget at our January Chapter meeting. It will make a great capstone to our new Annex.