Some Context for the Concept
There over 10,000 community gardens across North America where members come together and grow healthy food for themselves and their neighbors. In addition growing fresh, healthy produce, community gardens also offer many other benefits. (What are the benefits?)
Many European cities offer residents “allotments”—small plots in the surrounding area where gardeners can enjoy the experience of sowing and growing. But in the United States and Canada, community gardens, like Robinwood Garden, are typically organized and led by local volunteers.
In most North American cities, municipal parks departments and/or organizations like the American Community Gardening Association provide support and resources to community garden groups. Thanks to community partnerships and successful collaborations with public, private and government organizations like the City of West Linn and Clackamas County’s ‘Healthy Eating Active Living’ grants program, Robinwood Garden has been able to expand, thrive and produce lots of healthy organic fruits and vegetables for many people, all while promoting sustainable living, social justice, food security and the health of environment.
Robinwood Garden is located on the land surrounding Robinwood Station at 3706 Cedaroak Drive, West Linn, OR 97068. The building is a retired fire station that the ‘Friends of Robinwood Station’ are successfully converting into a place where community members can meet, hold events, and even reserve for private functions.
Ambitious ‘Friends of Robinwood Station’ members Tony Bracco, Lisa Clifton and Randall Fastabend saw potential for developing not only the building structure but the landscape surrounding the building as well. Aware of the impeccable growing environment (minus some clay in the soil), as well as the broad range of benefits that edible community gardens offer, the idea to create a community garden at the station soon transpired.
During the summer of 2011 the desire to create a garden for the community quickly picked up momentum as they began sharing their vision and searching for like-minded individuals within the community.
Soon enough, with the determination of a small handful of creative and dedicated individuals, development began in the middle of cold December. By the time the following Spring arrived the number of members approached two dozen strong as the garden seemed to draw in more and more members of the community who were eager to participate, socialize and begin planting.
The garden is currently still somewhat in its early phases as community members work to expand and further develop the land, however, the essentials required for cultivation have been constructed. As of January 2013, approximately one year following initial construction, the garden has grown to encompass roughly 25 raised garden beds and 30 members (plus participating family members). Many large projects have already been completed, like a new greenhouse and top-of-the-line, fully automated irrigation system, and there is no letting up in sight as plans for a worm bin, rain garden, harvest table and more terraced garden beds are already set in place. The garden’s first year was more or less a trial run for most processes and membership guidelines, but since the its first growing season proved to be a great success members decided to sustain the ‘everything shared’ philosophy that makes Robinwood Garden unique from the majority of other community gardens. The idea is that every member at the garden helps with all the work and shares all of the benefits as a whole, as opposed to having each individual bed or plot exclusively “owned” or operated by a different individual or family.
The idea behind this model is that it promotes cooperation, communication, sharing and teamwork among community members rather than isolation and ownership. In an ideal world, no particular individual or entity has true ownership of any of the Earth’s resources. No one individual has a greater innate right to any of Earth’s resources over another individual. Imagine how much better of a world we would live in if all nations enveloped this understanding and worked in cooperation to share the Earth’s resources rather than hoard them!
Within the garden, every person’s opinion is of value and virtually all the components that drive the garden are discussed openly. We hold meetings to discuss the garden every few weeks and anyone who would like to participate or learn more is welcome to notify us and attend.
Because Robinwood Garden values education outreach, community synergy and neighborly concord, it occasionally holds social and educational events that are free and open to the public. These events can be viewed on the website’s News page. Garden donations, suggestions and participation is whole-heartedly welcomed. Please visit the site’s Contact page if you are interested in getting involved.