Like many cities around the United States, much of the soil on Portland’s peninsula has high levels of lead, which makes it unsafe to grow vegetables. Since 1995, the City of Portland has been building community gardens to provide a safe place for residents to grow their own food.
Here’s a list of the city’s current community garden sites. Click on the garden name to access a Google Map.
Built in 1995, Valley Street is the oldest community garden in Portland. The garden is located down the hill from the Western Promenade and is adjacent to the Valley Street Dog Park. Valley has 42 plots.
Clark Street Community Garden is located in the West End. This small garden built in 1998 has eight plots.
North Street was built in 1998 and has 52 plots. Located across the street from the East End Elementary School, this community garden is adjacent to the school garden and overlooks Back Bay Cove. On clear days, gardeners have spectacular views of Mount Washington. Mount Joy Orchard surrounds the gardens with heirloom fruit trees planted and cared for by elementary students and community volunteers. There are currently over 60 fruit trees with plans to plant more each season.
Built in 2000, Payson Park is located off Baxter Boulevard and has 33 plots. Also in Payson Park are open fields for various activities, a softball field, and sledding hills.
Started in 2009 by neighbors looking to build community around growing food, Riverton became a City of Portland garden in 2014 with 28 plots. Riverton elementary school students share space in the garden for their weekly gardening classes. Students and community volunteers have planted several fruit trees around the garden to share the harvest.
Started in 2010 by committed community members, Brentwood abuts Evergreen Cemetery with beautiful walking trails into the woods leaving from the garden. Brentwood became a City of Portland garden in 2014. The garden has 65 individual plots and 20 communal plots. Gardeners have planted blueberries, raspberries, fruit trees, and many other perennials surrounding the garden.
Peaks Island Community Garden
Peaks Island Community Garden was started in 2008, when island residents come together to create a space for growing food and community. The garden is located in Trott-Little John Park and has 20 plots as well as a growing area that is wheelchair accessible. Peaks became a city run garden in 2014.
Boyd Street Community Garden
Boyd Street Community Garden was built in 2009. This 30-plot garden’s construction was a partnership between Kennedy Parks Tenants’ Council and Cultivating Community. The soil was contaminated with lead from the demolition of old buildings previously on the site. The City of Portland removed the contaminated soil and bring in safe fill from other construction sites in Portland. An orchard of 30 fruit trees, raspberry and blackberry bushes, honey bees, and a separate youth garden also exist on this site. The youth garden is run by high school students from around the city to grow food for Cultivating Community’s Elder Share Program that distributes vegetables, fruit and flowers to neighbors around the garden.
Casco Bay Community Garden
Casco Bay Community Garden was built in 2015 through a series of volunteer workdays. Gardeners tend their plots overlooking Casco Bay, and named this garden in honor of the beautiful view. The garden was constructed using a permaculture technique called “lasagna layering” in order to build healthy soil; the lasagna layers (in order) include granite dust, manure, seaweed, leaf matter, compost, newspaper, and hay. This same approach is being applied to a new communal growing space at the garden that will be managed cooperatively.
Common Share Garden on the Eastern Promenade
Common Share Garden on the Eastern Prom was finished in the fall of 2016 and sits next to the Casco Bay Community Garden. This new space presents a new model of community gardening in which gardeners share the whole garden instead of tending individual plots. Common Share gardeners plant and manage the space together, splitting the harvest among everyone involved.
Libbytown Community Garden was built in the fall of 2016. The garden was constructed through a partnership between the Libbytown Neighborhood Association, the City of Portland, Cultivating Community, and the Resilience Hub. Garden plots were built using a permaculture technique called lasagna layering to create the healthy soil rich in organic material. More than 60 community volunteers spent a fall Saturday building the forty-two new garden plots! Plots will be assigned to gardeners in the spring of 2017.