You are cordially invited to several upcoming Wisdom Community Gardens events this spring as Wisdom of the Elders launches our educational and organic heirloom vegetable garden at Kelly Butte House. A team of seven AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members will dedicate 2 1/2 weeks in late May and early June transforming the garden located at Wisdom’s offices into a permaculture site.
The public is welcome to join us at an Open House on Wednesday May 30 at 4:30 – 6:30 PM at 3203 SE 109th Avenue as we welcome the NCCC team to our community. We will then invite the public back for the launch of Wisdom Community Gardens on Tuesday, June 12 from 4:30 – 6:30 PM as the team completes their work. You can also mark your calendar for Friday evening, September 14 when we hold our second annual Elderberry Harvest Celebration.
Wisdom’s offices are located at the eastern base of Kelly Butte where rainfall averages 37 inches a year (Environmental Services, City of Portland, Dec. 2011). Rainfall is exponentially larger on our Kelly Butte property due to runoff from the butte that flows down the slope during rainy season, eroding the land and stripping the soil of essential minerals and nutrients. The predominantly compacted clay soil in the back yard at Kelly Butte House has been overgrown with invasive, opportunistic plant species, including Himalayan blackberries, morning glory, English ivy and various grasses.
The regenerative design that Wisdom Community Gardens Advisory Council has been planning this past year would harness this flow of water and enrich the depleted clay soil, serving as a starting point for the sustainable Native plant habitat. Raised garden beds are currently being constructed and will be available for Native families to use for the summer. Sherry Addis and Verdene McGuire from the Portland office of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians of Oregon, Judy Bluehorse Skelton with PSU’s Capstone Program, Heather Burns, Ph.D., with PSU’s Learning Gardens Lab, and Lora Price, Landscape Architect with Design with Nature, have all been collaborating with Wisdom’s Rose High Bear in the development of this site.
Wisdom Community Gardens is being created as a permaculture garden training center for Portland’s Native American community and to educate Native American community members in sustainable/ regenerative urban farming systems. We will invite the Native community together to learn to plant, grow and harvest healthy organic heirloom vegetables, Native roots and berries, and ethnobotanicals; and then celebrate at a traditional fall harvest ceremony.
There will be opportunities for Native families to learn about and build water catchment systems (to save on water bills), analyze and complete soil amendment (so vegetables are larger and more nutritious, and then use one of the raised garden beds to grow vegetables for the family. We also plan to communicate agricultural and food processing micro-enterprise opportunities since our Native community statistically experiences the deepest level of poverty of any cultural group in Portland.
Wisdom’s Native American Advisory Council will continue to plan and promote this project’s health and wellness benefits along with practical training opportunities to Native families. We want our community to discover the abundance that can be provided by Portland’s rich natural world. Please contact Rebecca Tait at (503) 775-4014 if you are interested in learning more or want to reserve a garden spot for the summer… and please join us at our upcoming events!