Wednesday, November 20, 2019

My future community garden?

Near our Astoria house is a former elementary school, Captain Robert Gray School, that still houses the Port of Play daycare/preschool and some city school administrative offices. On the grounds of the school is a large fenced area that was probably some kind of sport court back in the day. But now, it's the site of a thriving and amazingly lush community garden. 
On a walk by last week, I finally let myself into the garden to have a good look around at their operation. Although I've only ever been a member of one community garden, I  love exploring any garden to see what's growing and the way they're managed.
The first thing I realized is that all these beds have been created on top of a hard paved surface. The beds were wood, but they were surrounded with two sizes of stacked concrete blocks (for strength? for insulation?) I wonder how the beds drain?

Despite being so the late season, many of the beds were filled with produce.

This colorful combo begged to be put in a vase.
I was in awe of the huge pile of compost available for the gardeners.
 Someone had recently harvested these gorgeous beets, but why had they left them on the walkway? I so wanted to give them a home in my vegetable soup!

One enterprising gardener had built themselves a rolling bed cover in two parts. I admired the simple design but I wondered where it went after it had to be removed in spring.

The construction was very basic, but it fitted and rolled perfectly over the bed. What would they protect in wetter, colder weather? With protection like that, I'd probably be growing agaves!

Someone here runs a tight ship. There were also signs admonishing gardeners not to assume beds were abandoned or available to them: "ALL beds are assigned. NO beds are abandoned." Got it.
Being something of a gate-keeper myself, I appreciated the clear signage and descriptions of parameters. This is a place in which I could happily grow vegetables, safely fenced from the marauding local deer.

Goodbye for now, Gray School Garden - I'll check in again soon, and maybe my time to grow with you will come!


  1. That has to be the tidiest community garden I've ever seen. Nice job!

    1. It helps that the paths are hard, so aren’t full of weeds. It pleased my sense of order!

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  3. This looks like a great garden to be involved with!

  4. What a great use of a decommissioned school yard! I hope you can get in on the action, and get yourself a plot. As for the drainage, I bet it would be excellent. Kind of like a large table garden, I would imagine!

  5. Love it! Great use of space. Are you going to sign up when a plot becomes open?

  6. That's impressively well-planned, and a great temporary use of space.

  7. Very squared away! Those huge piles of compost in community gardens are always a big draw for me too -- and there's usually straw mulch available too. And bartering your excess vegetables for someone else's (those beets maybe!) is one of the great perks of a community garden. My experience with community gardens has been the same -- lots of signage about clear boundaries! I hope you get a plot. There's usually a very long waiting list so it doesn't hurt to sign up asap. It's not unusual to wait for availability over a year here...


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