Opinion: Calvin Community Garden and the high demand for gardening in Corvallis


El Guo

Photo illustration depicting Kylie Andrews (she/her), first year student at Oregon State University, squats to check growth of plants at Calvin Community Gardens on Feb. 25. Having a community garden is vital to being able to grow your own food.

Hannah Lull, Columnist

Editor’s Note: This column does not represent the opinion of The Daily Barometer. This column reflects the personal opinions of the writer.

Gardening is becoming more popular, especially with springtime just around the corner. Who doesn’t love the welcoming smell of fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, or whatever else you decide to grow? The answer: pretty much no one. 

More and more people are picking up gardening in their free time to take a break from their normal daily tasks and spend some of the day outside. One of those places in Corvallis that’s seen an increase in demand is Calvin Community Garden.

Calvin Community Garden, which is open to the public, had a waitlist of 15 people by February, with several requests for a plot expected each week during spring, according to Doug Eldon, the garden’s manager. Calvin Community Garden is located on the Calvin Presbyterian Church grounds in downtown Corvallis, right across from Garfield Park. 

In the garden, there are numerous garden plots around 10 x 35 feet in size. There are also newer raised bed plots which are available in a variety of different sizes. The garden also has communal equipment people can use, such as water, wood chips, picnic tables, mowing, compost, wheelbarrows and garden tools. 

Gardeners may not have all the space, equipment, and access on their own, so they may look for a communal space to grow their favorite foods. Without community gardens, people desperate to garden wouldn’t get the chance to, lacking the healthy and rewarding resource that gardening offers.  

As gardening is becoming more limited, gardens like Calvin Community Garden need to be established to allow for more people to live a healthier, cheaper lifestyle, or maybe just take part in an enjoyable hobby. By building more gardens in Corvallis, those who wish to save money on fresh produce, or who just see gardening as a pastime, will benefit from more gardens in their community.

Eldon plans on building four or five more raised potting beds this spring. The church may consider cutting down the oak tree located on the property, which would allow space for several more large plots. Eldon also plans on building a new tool shed soon. 

Although the plot beds are free, donations are accepted to help upkeep the garden and make it available for anyone who wishes to use it. The church suggests a donation of 25 dollars per year to help with expenses. The church also considers it their privilege to host and wants to keep the garden community thriving as long as the budget allows. 

“There are many benefits to gardening in general, and being involved in our garden provides a great opportunity for social interactions with other gardeners and community members,” Eldon said. 

Not only does it strengthen the Corvallis community but also allows for Oregon State University students to take a break from stressful classes, while growing their own fresh, local food in a low-budget way. 

Eldon said the benefits of gardening for college students included, “being outside in the fresh air; growing plants; dealing with elements… (and) working in 3 dimensions instead of just 2.” 

Calvin Community Garden welcomes new and old gardeners, as long as the gardener holds responsibility for their own plot. If a garden is not maintained properly, it will be cleared and assigned to someone else. 

To maintain the garden, Eldon administers “Garden Rules” to those who wish to keep their plot. Some rules include keeping weeds under control, respecting the belongings and plots of other members, conserving water, shutting off water valves, using organic pest control/fertilizers and not using treated lumber. 

If you’re able to maintain your plot and enjoy gardening, applying for a spot at Clavin Community Garden may be the perfect place for you to do so, although you will need to take the waitlist into consideration. If you’re desperate to get your hands on some gardening tools, the Starker Arts Garden for Education (SAGE) is another popular place to garden in the Corvallis area. 

SAGE welcomes gardening volunteers to grow and donate local produce to families in need. They also are committed to educating gardeners and volunteers about food security. 

Similar to Calvin Community Garden, people can also grow their own food at the Dunawi Creek Community Gardens at SAGE by paying a plot fee in addition to a $25 deposit,  which is refundable after six hours of community service. SAGE is located in Bruce Starker Arts Park but lots are limited as well. 

You can get more information on how to apply for a garden plot by the Calvin Community Garden website or the Dunawi Creek Community Gardens at SAGE website

Due to the increasing demand for garden spots in Corvallis, perhaps it’s something worth advocating for. Instead of expanding space for community gardens, it seems it’s becoming more limiting. Not only are gardens running out a space for members, but gardens are being removed from the community altogether. 

“There had been another community garden behind a church on Western Boulevard, near where it merges with Philomath Boulevard, but the garden is gone and there will soon be a parking lot there,” Eldon said. “Very sad.”

The town of Corvallis should implement more space for community gardens. Perhaps even Oregon State University could establish a community garden, free to all students and could welcome anyone from the outside community. By creating more gardens, our town could bring like-minded people from all generations to share a communal hobby. 

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