Susan Wiencke of the Madison Gardens Inspires Great Things to Come for Grant Gardens

Community Garden at Madison High School in Northeast Portland.

Members of the Grant Garden Committee met earlier this week with Susan Wiencke, who oversees goings-on at the Madison Gardens on NE 82nd Avenue. The Madison Gardens will serve as a helpful point of reference for the Grant Gardens Project, as they are the only high school learning-community gardens, and are thus most comparable.

Susan had no shortage of great ideas and tips for the Grant Gardens, including:

  • Naming numerous local groups who have historically helped with the construction of community and school gardens.
  • Having a raised bed in the Learning Garden with “control” and “experimental” sections, for science projects in Grant’s “Intro to Sustainable Agriculture” classes.
  • The importance of a greenhouse — an addition that she says is also relatively inexpensive.
  • Building a covered area made of cobb so that classes can be more easily taught outside during the cold, rainy winter months.
  • Suggestions for a comprehensive, low-maintenance, space-conscious composting system.
  • Potentially having high schoolers mentor younger students from Hollyrood and Beverly Clearly Schools in the garden.
  • The importance of having a timed, security-conscious irrigation system.
  • The importance of incorporating student artwork — from Grant, and potentially from Hollyrood, Beverly Clearly, and/or the neighborhood — into the garden.
  • The importance of having a classroom at Grant specifically designated for garden materials.
  • Suggestions regarding necessary equipment.
  • How nice of an addition an outdoor kitchen can be for a sustainable agriculture course.
  • Potentially selling starts as a way to make money for the garden.
  • The importance of building a movable shed. She also noted that sheds can be built incredibly inexpensively.
  • Potentially utilizing a cistern.
  • And much, much more!
Thank you Susan, and everybody else at the Madison Gardens!
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