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For Immediate Release
Community Gardens Come to the Greater Columbia River Gorge
Bingen & White Salmon -- Mar 28, 2008 --



Community Gardens Come to Bingen and White Salmon


Bingen, WA - March 28, 2008 - Attention all green thumbs!  Community gardens will soon be a reality in Bingen and White Salmon.  Sponsored by Washington Gorge Action Programs and the local Horizons program, the three garden sites plan to open this month.  A community gardens committee, initiated by the area's year and a half old Horizons planning process, has been arranging property leases, locating materials and designing the sites.


"We are thrilled to offer this opportunity for local residents to garden." co-Chair Bruce Bolme stated,  "This project was the first priority identified during the Horizons visioning process and fit beautifully with WGAP's stated goals of enabling folks to provide nutritious food for their families."


The Humboldt Garden is located on vacant property owned by the City of Bingen south of Daubenspeck Park.  A backhoe was brought in earlier this week to help level the land and loosen many years of embedded rock followed by a work party to move the rocks to an unused portion of the lots.  Next week will see the volunteers amending soil and tilling, followed by fence and compost bin construction.


The two proposed White Salmon sites, one owned by a non-profit corporation and the other by a private party, are awaiting final lease approvals.  "There are still a few details to work out and we'd rather wait to name them when the leases are signed,"  Bolme said.


Garden plots are estimated to be four feet wide in varying lengths of 10 to 20 feet long.  Above-ground boxes will be available to accommodate those with special needs.  Gardeners will pay one dollar per linear foot to help cover the costs of water, materials and future expansion and are required to donate eight volunteer hours throughout the season in community areas.  "The volunteers are really the key to successful community gardens throughout the country," said committee member Debbie Olson, "They're the nuts and bolts - taking care of not only their own plots but looking after the garden as a whole.  It's what community is all about."

Gardeners will also be encouraged to "plant a row" for the Food Bank and donate some of their crops.  "We hope everyone will adopt that philosophy in their home gardens too," Olson added.


The initial garden construction is funded by a $1,500 grant from Horizons, a community leadership program of the Northwest  Area Foundation aimed at reducing poverty.   During the past eighteen months over 100 participants have met to discuss the many misperceptions and realities of poverty while developing local solutions to help people move towards economic stability.  The decision to create the community gardens was unanimous.  "People can't make good decisions about their needs when their bellies are empty," said Bolme.  The monies are being used to purchase fencing, irrigation equipment, soil amendments, a few basic tools and pay water expenses. 


Another committee member, Jay Anderson, added, "Our goals with the gardens extend beyond this year and include a space for food preservation, expanded garden sites and a farmer's market.  This is definately a long term program that we hope to build upon each year."


Plot applications for the Humboldt garden will be accepted at the site on a first come, first served basis  April 19th and 26th from 10 a.m. to noon.  To be considered, registrants will need to submit payment and designate their assigned volunteer hours at that time.  Pending final design, approximately 30 plots will be available.  Registration for the other sites will be announced at a later date.


"We'd like to encourage local groups and businesses to become a part of this project too.  Pick a spot to garden for the Food Bank, teach kids how food is grown, volunteer to help grow this community," said Anderson.  "The gardens have already benefited from the assistance of John Schwinge, Jay Holtman, Underwood Fruit, Bill Hunsaker, WSU Extension, the City of Bingen, WGAP and numerous donations - a bountiful thanks to all who have contributed!"


The committee is seeking additional volunteers for a variety of projects during the construction and seasonal phases.  Interested persons or groups are asked to call 493.5263 to volunteer or for more information.





Timi Keene