The Hermiston Community Garden project is sprouting and blossoming.
After years of discussions, the project surged ahead this year when the Children’s Health Committee, part of the Healthy Communities Coalition, approached Good Shepherd Medical Center about donating land for the endeavor. The hospital donated use land behind the hospital warehouse and adjacent to the Hermiston Family Aquatic Center parking lot near the Hermiston Butte. Good Shepherd has also agreed to donate water for the garden.
“It’s a very generous offer, so we had to make something happen,” committee chairwoman Angie Treadwell said. “It’s something people have talked about for a long time, and I’m just very grateful for Good Shepherd first and foremost for donating the land and the water. That’s what got us started.”
George Clough and Don Horneck, of Oregon State University’s Hermiston Agriculture Research and Extension Center, recently tested the land to evaluate the soil condition and depth. Clough said the ground will be useable for the garden.
Organizers hope to have something growing in the garden this summer.
For a $10 fee, anyone can apply to receive a 11-foot-by-11-foot plot in the garden. People must agree to certain rules and restrictions, however, such as no pesticides and and agreeing to plant something before June 1. The $10 fee will go toward maintenance of the garden, and scholarships are available.
“We’re really targeting people who live in apartments, seniors, schools, people on low income,” Treadwell said. “People who don’t have room to have a garden, but it’s open to anyone who wants one.”
Ramona Trebilcock, a nurse in the Hermiston School District and member of the Children’s Health Committee, said the group hopes to attract a variety of gardeners, including school classes, businesses and families. Applicants do not have to live in Hermiston city limits.
“If somebody from Stanfield wants to have a plot here and they want to come over and work on it, great,” Trebilcock said. “We want people to start being in the dirt, growing food, vegetables, even growing some flowers or herbs, it’s great. This is a great way for people to get back to nature, back to growing good stuff and eating healthier.”
Applications are available at Head Start, Mirasol and the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce.
“The more people that come and lend a hand, that creates not only awareness in the community but community involvement and an atmosphere that says, ‘We believe this is a good thing for our community,’” Trebilcock said. “We believe this is a good thing for our community, and we want it to be a good thing for a long time.”
Friday, the committee launched a contest to allow people the opportunity to submit names for the garden. The person who submits the winning name will receive two $25 gift cards to Home Depot. High school students will construct and design a sign with the name for display at the site.
To suggest a name and enter the contest, stop by the Umatilla Morrow Head Start office on the corner of Fourth Street and Main Street in Hermiston.
“I’ve only heard people say positive things and be excited,” Treadwell said. “A lot of community members have stepped up to donate items: mulch, compost, drip lines. Hermiston surprises me in the fact that they always come together. It’s a very generous community. “
The group is still looking for donations of some items, however, Trebilcock said, including fencing to keep out animals, a gate, stakes and string, and wood bark for paths between plots and dirt.
“We have fenceposts but we need chicken wire to keep the critters out. We have mulch and compost, but we need dirt to mix it with. If people tell us where dirt is, we can even go get it,” she said.
To make a donation or for more information about the workday, call Umatilla Morrow Head Start at 541-564-6878 and ask for Angie or Chelle.