October 27, 2010

Multnomah County is giving away tax-foreclosed property to qualified organizations for use as urban gardens by governments, non-profits and religious organizations. Thirteen properties are currently available for use as community gardens, urban farms, teaching gardens and green spaces.

The initiative, called County Digs!, is a unique collaboration between the offices of Sustainability and Tax and Title. Since the program's inception, County Digs! participants have transformed vacant lots from fallow eyesores to flourishing gardens and community centers.

"Donating these surplus properties for community gardens is the right thing to do," says Kat West, Director of the Multnomah County Office of Sustainability, "and it’s always great to see how much food is grown by people that otherwise wouldn’t have access to a gardening location."

Interested organizations can view the available properties and apply for garden space at /countydigs. Applications are due November 30, 2010.

Read County Digs! success stories below:

Emerson Street Garden, 822 NE Emerson
In coordination with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the environmental non-profit Groundworks Portland, the neighbors have cleaned up the previously lead-contaminated site and prepared an area for use as neighborhood garden.

Additionally, their ongoing study of lead decontamination will result in a manual for governments, organizations and interested individuals showing how to reduce lead contamination in urban lands using low-tech and inexpensive methods.

Shortcut Farm, 3900 block of NE Garfield
Cycle Crops farms has converted this double city lot from a neglected yard to an urban farm and community garden supplying local restaurants and the neighbors with fresh, healthful vegetables, and providing educational experiences in growing good food.

Greeley Forest Garden, near the meeting of Greeley and Interstate
Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT) plans to eliminate non-native plants at this site and develop a "food forest" of perennial food-bearing plants accessible to foot traffic. In the process, these plants will stabilize the steep bluff and lower the fire hazard in the area. Research and educational activities will explore the development of sustainable agriculture in cities.

Related links:

  • 2010 Urban Food and Greenspace Property List
  • Instructions for the 2010 Property Donation application
  • 2010 Property Donation application
  • Applicant eligibility criteria