Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Portland Press Herald

The following was in the Portland Press Herald today:

SOUTH PORTLAND — A group hoping to start a community garden at the former Hamlin School has made its pitch to the City Council.
The Community Garden Collective would like to lease space at the former school property on Ocean Street, by Sawyer Street, from the city. The plan is to have between 35 and 50 gardeners, depending on the size of the plots, said Helen Slocum, the group's vice president and acting coordinator.
The group outlined its proposal at a City Council workshop last night. The council requested additional information, particularly about parking at the site, which is now used by the city's Planning Department.
Slocum said her group wants to work with a couple of neighbors who expressed opposition to the project.
The collective focused on the former Hamlin School largely because of the sun and access to water on the site. The group had looked at other locations that City Manager James Gailey said could be available.
Slocum said the collective hopes to create additional community gardens elsewhere in the city after the first one is established.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Supporters of CGC Plan Gather at City Council Workshop

Tonight was the first presentation to the South Portland City Council of the CGC's plan for the new community garden. The proposed garden would be located at Hamlin School on the corner of Sawyer St. and Ocean Ave. Peggy Stewart, CGC member, enthusiastically reviewed the major points of the project. Each City Council member had a copy of the comprehensive plan for the meeting.

Overall the audience consisted of several supporters. There were two residents who live across the road from Hamlin School who were against the idea of the garden altogether. They cited concerns of traffic, parking, and that the garden will be unsightly.

In contrast one neighbor who also lives across the road from the proposed garden came to voice her support for the plan. She supports the use of the city property as a shared community space for a garden. Members of the CGC were in attendance stating their personal reasons for working with the group and their hopes that the proposed lease of the property for the garden would be accepted by the Council.

Councilors were very supportive of the plan overall. Several of them commented about the positive impact community gardens have in cities and how the idea was an excellent one. Several of them noted the waiting list for the Hinckley Park Garden was long and this garden was needed to fulfil those needs. They liked the idea of using the garden to help educate the local children about planting and growing food and supported the use of three plots of veggies that will be donated to the local South Portland Food Pantry. They also commented they would like to see the group expand gardens across the city into other areas where the city is more densely populated, Red Bank for example (which CGC plans to do following the success of the Hamilin School Garden).

Councilors asked CGC to come up with some more ideas to work on the following concerns they have about the plan:
  • parking concerns
  • location of the garden on the Hamlin School property, will the garden take up too much space?
  • neighbor concerns - the suggestion was made to have the concerned neighbors work with the CGC to collaborate and find solutions to the residents' concerns so everyone can be comfortable with the plan.
  • the length of the lease, does the city know what they will be doing with the property in 2, 3 or 5 years? (the lease was proposed by the city to be 5 years, CGC had asked for 10)
  • specifics regarding access to the garden (a possible curb cut in the sidewalk would have to be made to make it accessible for people with disabilities)
  • water access - possible plumbing needs / requirements
  • specific plans for the group to ensure participants in the garden are following the regulations and are keeping the garden in good shape
  • planting shrubs around the permimeter of the garden to make it more attractive to the neighbors.
  • locations of gardens in other more densely populated parts of the city are needed
These issues will be worked on by the CGC with the City Manager and the plan will be brought back to the Council to see if there needs to be another workshop or if the lease proposal can go forward.

We will keep you updated on any progress, and until then please spread the word about CGC! We need your support!

Please contact us if you have any questions, comments or concerns!
Crystal Goodrich, CGC member

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Non-Profit Group Promotes Organic Community Gardens

A new non-profit organization, the Community Garden Collective (CGC), has been formed by a group of South Portland gardening enthusiasts. The CGC is committed to creating and supporting opportunities for all residents, regardless of circumstances, to have access to organic gardens within the South Portland community. CGC’s goal is to develop safe, beautiful and well-equipped facilities for gardeners to grow and harvest organic produce and flowers.

CGC has identified its first community garden location, a small portion of the land behind the former Hamlin School on the corner of Sawyer Street and Ocean Ave. The group’s goal is to have the first organic gardening spaces available for planting in spring of 2012.

The proposal for the gardening project will be presented at the South Portland City Council Workshop on Monday, January 24th at at the Community Center.  Please attend and share your comments!

Please contact Linda by phone 799-3937 or e-mail at communitygardencollective@gmail.com if you would like more information.