EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) – Several volunteers spent Saturday bidding farewell to their beloved community garden near the Federal courthouse in downtown Eugene while making sure that new construction starting soon won't completely destroy the project's legacy.
About a dozen volunteers who helped build and care for the garden spent Saturday, February 9 taking the garden apart, removing vegetables, trees and other plants that have been growing over the last three years.
The Courthouse Community Garden near 8th Avenue and Ferry Street started in 2010 as a way to help federal prison inmates re-enter society, while giving University of Oregon landscape architecture students a way to practice their craft.
While volunteers wanted to keep the garden, the City of Eugene owned the land amd decided to sell it last November. Northwest Community Credit Union bought the parcel as a near-future site for its new headquarters.
Originally, Eugene city staff told councilors that it would work with the University of Oregon to help find a new site for the garden. Since then, according to Robin Seloover of the UO's Landscape Architecture Program, the UO has lost its funding source for the program.
By the end of this month, the garden will be completely gone with no plans to reopen it anywhere else nearby.
"We grew 7,000 pounds of food last year and donated it . . . so we know that the soil is able to grow big healthy plants and so that's a priority, that the spirit of teaching and the spirit of feeding other people continues on,” said Seloover.
Continuing the garden's life, most of the soil for the garden is being scooped up and donated to other school-based community gardens in the Eugene-Springfield area. Most of the plants have been transplanted to new homes as well, including other school gardens and private homes.
Hanalie Rosen was one of the volunteers helping on Saturday. Rosen says some of the plants she helped dig up with go to the Brattain Elementary Learning Garden. Brattain says it's hard to see the garden go, likening the garden to a hidden benefit in the community.
"It's like having a bench, you never know who going to sit on it or what kind of relationships will be forged and when inventions are going to be made, and so that's the kind of thing community gardens do. They literally create community, they bond people,” said Rosen.
The garden's lease expires on February 23. Soon after, Northwest Community Credit Union will begin building a three- to four-story building on the site. The credit union hopes to open the building by 2014. The City of Eugene sold the land for more than $1.2 million.