Community Gardening

Community gardening is a healthy, inexpensive activity that encourages interaction with each other in a socially meaningful and physically productive way.  Not only do gardens produce nutritious food and inspire healthy eating habits, but they also have been shown to raise property value and reduce neighborhood crime.


Click on the image above for a larger, printable PDF file.
  • A community garden encourages social interaction between community members and promotes independence and satisfaction.
  • It provides a catalyst for neighborhood and community development.
  • Development and maintenance of garden space is less expensive than that of parkland.
  • Community gardens provide access to nutritionally rich foods that may otherwise be unavailable.
  • Community gardening preserves resources and helps maintain a friendly eco-system.
  • Urban agriculture is 3-5 times more productive per acre than traditional large-scale farming.
  • Community gardening is recognized by many police departments as an effective community crime prevention strategy.
  • Gardening creates opportunity for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education.
  • Community gardens have been shown to actually increase property values.
  • Community gardens provide opportunities for intergenerational and cross-cultural connections.

Sources & Resources

Proposed Location

One location that gets plenty of sun and would not be blocking any individual owner’s private view is between the pool and the walking trail. Starting small with a test area only 4′ x 24′, centered with the flag pole and following the contour lines of the existing hardscape and irrigation system, looks like a low-risk opportunity. Two or three evergreen anchor shrubs could help visually transition to a pleasant winter garden that might include rosemary and kale. What else can you think of that does well in Portland’s mild winters?


Another Idea

Tomato plants or basil plants might do well interspersed between the roses on these south-facing slopes. Growing tomatoes near roses is said to protect the rose bush from black spot, a fungal infection. Tomato leaves contain a chemical that acts as an insecticide, according to Louise Riotte in “Mother Earth News.”

Wouldn’t it be lovely to harvest fresh-off-the-vines tomatoes right here at RiverHouse throughout the season!


Blueberries are often recommended for Pacific Northwest Gardens

blueberriesBlueberry plants are exceptionally attractive bushes worthy of landscape consideration. The increasingly popular fruit, with well-documented health benefits, can be eaten fresh or frozen for out-of-season use. Plants have a profusion of white blossoms in late spring, glossy green leaves in summer and outstanding red foliage in autumn.

“When people think about growing food in urban areas, the first idea is generally to hide the vegetable garden somewhere in the backyard.  Edible landscaping offers an alternative to conventional residential landscapes; edible plants can be just as attractive while producing fruits and vegetables.”

Read more about Edible Landscaping from Oregon State University Master Gardener PDF file.

An inspirational permaculture project in Seattle

beacon-6673406_f496“The Beacon Food Forest (BFF) started in 2009 as a result of a permaculture design course final project. To pass the course four students selected the BFF’s actual site and created a dream design which demonstrated all the design elements we had learned in the course. The best tools to come out of this final project were a full size landscape design drawing, which we used to present our concept to the community and Seattle City agencies, along with the language to support this design. The schematic designs below held a lot of leverage. The design, drawn by a certified Landscape Architect, fit the actual topography of the site and had massive community support and input.”

The Beacon Food Forest values renewable resources and services while following these Permaculture Principles:

  • Observe and Interact.
  • Integrate rather than segregate.
  • Use and value diversity.
  • Use and value renewable resources and services.
  • Apply self regulation and accept feedback.
  • Creatively use and respond to change.
  • Use edges and value the marginal.


Read more about The Beacon Hill Food Forest

What is your vision for the future of our RiverHouse Community?

The tomatoes growing nestled in-between the roses are appearing to be quite happy. The harvest has been bountiful with plenty to share. And even the pumpkins on the other side of the path have survived this scorching summer with a little hand-watering. I want to try zucchini and summer squash next year. Yum!


  1. Blueberry bushes are a great idea and now come in evergreen varieties.

    There are a lot of veggies that can be planted late in the season that will grow and can be harvested in the winter. Planting tomatoes among the roses would require amending the soil but that’s a good thing! Amending our soil, attracting pollinators, and reducing pesticide use will be a boon to our landscape.

  2. Increase the number of evergreens to four, one per corner, or six, corners and mid points to balance visual appearance.

    We like the idea of blueberries and lavender.

  3. Additional winter crops could be thyme, a nice border plant, and sage or lavender both offering a contrasting silvery foliage. They are perennial, however. You would not want to let them have too much of your limited space.


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