Cultivating cooperation

Washougal pumpkin party planners modify garden location

Several Washougal residents got what they wanted, after they took the time to go to City Hall.

Bill Durgan is among the people who grow vegetables at 1835 “D” St.

He and some of his neighbors spoke during the May 11 Washougal City Council meeting, to complain about the potential use of the “D” Street garden to grow pumpkins.

Durgan, of Washougal, said the site has been used as a garden for local residents for more than seven years.

He is currently growing tomatoes, and he plans to add lettuce and peppers.

Durgan’s brother-in-law, Skip Haines, of Camas, has supplied vegetables from the neighborhood garden to senior citizens and other local residents. Haines has also provided gardening education for D Street residents, including Matthew Abbe.

Abbe, 5, told City Council members he and Haines dug holes for a scarecrow.

“It scares the birds away,” Abbe said while being held by his mother, Roberta. “I would like to keep the garden with Skip, so I can keep digging holes with him.”

Cory Soderberg, of Washougal, said he has taken some of the vegetables grown in the garden to the Women, Infants and Children office, while Haines has made deliveries to the Inter-Faith Treasure House.

Emmanuel Cortes recently planted some vegetables, including kale, zucchini, carrots and cucumbers, in the garden.

“I was looking forward to my first garden,” he said to Mayor Sean Guard and City Council members. “It let me get to know my neighbors and to have that community feel. It is something nice to have.”

Cortes was reacting to having seen a sign posted in front of the garden.

The sign said the city property was going to be repurposed for a pumpkin patch project.

“The City of Washougal understands that this garden is being unofficially used for personal purposes,” the sign stated.

It mentioned city staff would converge on the property Tuesday, May 26, at 9 a.m., to clean and prepare the garden for pumpkin planting.

“If you have invested in plants or materials that you would like to keep, please remove those items before May 26,” the sign stated.

The pumpkins will be used for a community celebration in the fall.

Bonnie Taylor said the garden area, eight years ago, was “a tangled mess of blackberries, trash, old tires, beer cans and cigarette butts.”

She said it was an unused lot.

“We have cleaned it up a lot, at no cost to the city,” Taylor said.

She enjoys showing children from the neighborhood how to harvest a rhubarb plant, to make pies.

“From the ground to the table, it’s a great experience,” Taylor said.

The city installed a water spigot several years ago. It is something the garden users said they do not want to pay for, preferring instead to use water from a neighbor’s house or they bring their own water.

“We just wanted the dirt to use,” Durgan said yesterday, by phone. “We do not want city water or gravel pathways.”

A resolution is reached

The result of a decision made last week is that people who want to use the garden this year will pay the city $12 for a space at the site.

“It will cost us some money, but at least we get to use it,” Durgan said.

Rose Jewell, the administrative assistant to the Washougal mayor and city administrator, said this year is a transition year.

“We might be doing something different for next year,” she said. “Things are growing now.

“We want to work together, in cooperation with the community members and the city,” Jewell added.

She said instead of growing pumpkins at 1835 “D” St., pumpkin starts will be planted at 1712 “D” St., behind the City Hall parking lot.

Students at Gause Elementary School have received pumpkin seeds and pods, to grow pumpkin starts.

Area residents are invited to join volunteers from the Downtown Washougal Association for a planting day, Saturday, June 6, at 9 a.m., at 1712 “D” St.

Manure will be accepted May 26

Jewell said the soil at the future pumpkin patch needs some good fertilizer, such as composted yard debris.

The city is also seeking donations of aged or composted livestock manure, for the patch.

The waste material will be accepted Tuesday, May 26, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 1712 “D” St.

For more information, contact Jewell at 835-8501, Ext. 602, or Suzanne Grover, Washougal parks, cemetery and facilities manager, at 835-2662, Ext. 207.

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