Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Before Design, a Little History

About two years ago Oregon State University (OSU) Polk County Master Gardener (PMG) Bill Leedy got an idea he felt passionately about. Why do most other counties with OSU Master Gardener programs have their own demonstration gardens and Polk County doesn't?  He may have considered that we've provided extensive gardening at the Polk County Fairgrounds, at Historic Brunk House (a farmhouse with historical significance in rural Polk County), at the Dallas City Arboretum, at Western Oregon University's Gentle House garden, etc. Though we enjoy providing the gardening services, why is it sometimes difficult to excite trainees regarding the work required of them in each of these places? Hmmm, could it be we don't have "pride of ownership?" Also, since those places belong to other organizations, we may make suggestions, but we have no actual decision-making freedom or oversight responsibility

He brought the idea to the chapter which agreed our own garden home was needed and a committee consisting of Bill Leedy, Nick & Linda  Yerbick, Darrell Ward, and Shirley Sloan was formed to start looking. They considered Nelson Park behind the Fairgrounds and about 7 acres around Independence city water wells. The search committee was discouraged as each option fell through.
Water wells in NE Independence

Then in conversations with the City of Independence (click on anything blue/underlined to go to the related website) they discovered that there are about 7 acres attached to the south end of a little-known park on the east bank of Ash Creek from the now mostly-vacant Mountain Fir Lumber Independence city limits. In fact, the tiny neighborhood park on the north end is named "Mountain Fir Park."
Mountain Fir Park at 7th and F Streets, Independence

This sounded promising so he and the other Polk  Master Gardener Demo Garden committee members began working out a deal with the city, began clearing brush and mapping the site.
Sign regarding restoration of habitat
Several people, including Bill, Nick Yerbick, John Young and others (as we go along much of the history and recognition of other PMG's will find it's way into this space, so keep up with the story here!)  began clearing the site of Himalayan blackberries (non-native), brushy willow and alder. A teenager by the name of Jesus Salazar worked with the City of Independence to create a senior project of clearing brush and restoring Ash Creek's riparian habitat.His work aided our project immensely also. So, Thanks, Jesus S.!!

L to R: Vicki, Me, Lois,Bill, John, Linda
When Bill Leedy started mapping the area and finding out what the city actually required, he found himself also "designing," finding areas where he thought a certain theme would work well, or where a sign would look and function best. He started doodling future paths and garden areas. Wait, he couldn't do all this work!! The garden needed a design team.

Enter, Polk County Master Gardener and artist Vicki Brink. Bill and Vicki assembled a PMG team of other artists, pragmatists, and long- time PMGs to work on creating a name, rules for design and a master plan for the garden. We are Vicki Brink-Chair, Janelle Graham-tired blogger, Lois Martin, Bill Leedy, John Young and Linda Yerbick-all super supporters of PMG.

There are many other aspects of how we reached this point and lots of work done by other Polk Master Gardeners, but I said I'd blog about the Design Committee's processes. Now the committee has made a beginning and so have I in keeping you informed. Work has begun. The first meeting was January 7th; chaotic and fun. We all had ideas and more ideas and more ideas. At our second meeting Vicki took us in hand and we got down to work identifying goals, first steps, etc. Hopefully this blog will keep you up to date on our progress. Welcome to the design blog of the OSU Polk County Master Gardener

Next Time:  Stepping Out,  Goals, First Design Step, How to Submit Ideas, and More.