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Oregon Garden receives $100,000 grant to increase accessibility

By Melissa Wagoner

The Oregon Garden recently received a $100,000 grant from Travel Oregon as part of that organization’s $3.6 million Competitive Grants Program focused on improving accessibility and inclusivity through visitor industry improvements across the state.

“In my time here, and certainly in the last five years, it’s the largest grant we’ve received,” Delen Kitchen, The Oregon Garden Director of Operations, said. “Because we haven’t had a dedicated development director, grants are an untapped resource for us.”

At least they were, until board treasurer, Mark Gummin, came along.

“He really has taken an interest in grants,” Kitchen said. “And six months ago, he really got excited to start looking.”

The timing was perfect, not only to apply for the Travel Oregon grant but also to begin work on the numerous accessibility renovations The Oregon Garden Foundation has been hoping to prioritize.

“Half the money will go toward putting door switches on our main buildings. We’re doing five at $10,000 a door because we see a need for it all the time,” Kitchen said, listing the first of five large renovations – including road and path repair, increased signage indicating ADA accessible paths, the restriping of the main parking lot, and increased lighting throughout the garden – that she hopes will be completed between now and the start of the Garden’s busy season.

“It’s all something we were working toward, but it would have been more piecemeal,” Kitchen said. “This will allow us to make a significant change.”

A pathway at the Oregon Garden.   Chris Vardas
A pathway at the Oregon Garden. Chris Vardas

Kitchen already views The Oregon Garden as one of the more accessible botanical gardens in the state – due in large part to the tram that increases accessibility for those people with mobility issues – but she knows there is room for improvement.

“In the 25 years we’ve been here things have changed and the needs of the community have changed,” Kitchen pointed out. “That’s what’s nice about these funds that focus on those needs.”

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