Ashland starts neighborhood gardens

Gardens may be popping up in neighborhoods all over town under a plan proposed by the Ashland Wellness Guide to create a locally grown, sustainable food supply.

It's called the Neighborhood Garden Project and it's being organized during a Spring Wellness Faire, set for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at Pioneer Hall across from Lithia Park.

Residents, either individually or by neighborhood, agree to work their plots organically, give seeds from their produce to the Ashland Wellness Seed Bank, donate excess food to food banks and charities and make commitments to personal and group responsibility for the garden, says Lisa Pavati, publisher of the Wellness Guide.

"This is to lay a foundation of civic agriculture for local food production and for community development, so when challenges arise, economically, environmentally, or with oil or food shortages, our community can deal with it," says Pavati.

Scott McGuire, a community gardener who will teach classes such as Back Yard Sustainability, says, "We need to create a local food supply because we're energy addicted. The average American uses more oil in food production than in personal transportation. There's a huge interest in sustainable living."

McGuire says civic agriculture has a "strong social component" in which people learn to work together, be responsible and share the fruits of joint labor. Participants donate their time, supplies, land, water and labor based on what they have most to donate. Some people don't have much time but do have the land or water, says Pavati. It's up to each autonomous gardening group to work out supplies and labor.

Those joining neighborhood gardening groups will receive:


162; A free handbook of what grows in Ashland and how to grow it.


162; Hotline advice from Phoenix Organics.


162; Help on how to plan a garden and a 20 percent discount on supplies from Phoenix Organics, Fry Family Farm, Aurora Farms &

all local &

and Synergy Seed Exchange in Willow Creek, Calif.


162; Consultations with a permaculturist and Master Gardeners on how to plan the garden.


162; Consultations on how to work the social aspects.

"This has never been done before, as far as we can tell," says Pavati. "We're creating a video and some literature as we go along. We're already getting calls from Arcata and some cities in Oregon about how to do it."

It's also about turning lawns, which are very water intensive, into gardens "so all you see, looking down the street, is a food corridor," she says.

"Rip 'em up (lawns) and plant food," says McGuire, breaking the first ground of the year in his large Clay Street garden.

The goal of seed saving is to collect a bank of seeds adapted to the region, with an emphasis on those going back to the original or heirloom seed, says McGuire. The owner of Synergy Seed Exchange, George Stevens, will speak at Saturday's fair.

The social or community aspect of community gardening "is an idea I always wanted to see happen &

people caring about each other and the earth," says Pavati, noting the need for it is enhanced "as the price of oil goes up and our economy is going down."

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