Dig it: Grass roots effort to de-weed Oregon Garden receives outpouring of support

June 2021 Posted in Community, Garden, People

By Melissa Wagoner

Mary Coleman

Mary Coleman at The Oregon Garden.
HELEN THOMAS

“This is a call to arms for our community to help save our local treasure – The Oregon Garden,” Mary Coleman wrote in an impassioned post on the Facebook group, Silverton Connections on May 23.

Within hours Coleman’s post had dozens of replies from community members eager to pitch in.

“She just went for it,” Ana Farris, Botanical Curator for the garden, said. “She’s actually up here right now pulling weeds with a couple of ladies.”

An avid hiker, Coleman and her friend, Helen Thomas, often walk through the gardens and were recently dismayed by the number of weeds growing amongst the flowers. That’s when they discovered only two employees are currently in charge of caring for 80 acres of plants.

“This is our garden and it needs us,” Coleman pleaded. Adding that already she and Thomas had rounded up friends from a book club, members of the Silverton Senior Center and even a couple from Portland who were willing to drive over an hour just to help.

“We’ve got this,” she finished.

And, if the number of responses on Facebook are any indicator, she may be right.

“We are extremely short staffed,” Farris confirmed, “and we need all the help we can get, primarily with pulling weeds in the summer season.”

Volunteers do not need to be skilled gardeners – although she would welcome those, too – but they do need to be 16 years of age or older (or with a supervising adult) and to fill out an application at www.oregongarden.org before digging in.

“[I] want to stress that it is crucial that interested volunteers complete an application (ideally online) as this ensures they have agreed to our waiver of liability and that they wait to hear from the Garden before beginning to volunteer,” Delen Marcelia Kitchen, director of operations, said. She added that it may take some time.

“We are currently without a Volunteer Coordinator (but actively hiring),” she said. “And while we appreciate the outpouring of support we ask that people be patient with us while we respond to applicants.”

In the meantime, volunteers are already lining up, armed with gardening gloves, pruners and hoes to help where they can.

“It seems like, if people are serious, there are a lot of people interested in helping us out,” Farris stated.

“I am excited that the community is so energized,” Kitchen seconded.

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Volunteer at the Oregon Garden

16 or older – or with supervising adult

Shifts: weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon

Bring gloves, pruners, weeding equipment or hand tools

Application at: oregongarden.org

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