The Garden is filled with native and hearty plants to provide food and flowers for the local people and creatures near the ally. The retaining wall is home to a mural showing the story the Secret Garden of the Commons. Come, share, give, and protect what is for us all, gardeners, activists, teachers, children, and lovers of all that is nature. Find the garden by contacting the groups directly at EugeneAvantGardeners@gmail.com
So, it’s not our usual game, but we decided to give gardening, murals and community resiliency a try this week!
May 12, 2014 – Local Activists Turn Whitteaker Alley Into Community Garden
The weekend of March 9th and 10th, activists of Eugene worked all day Saturday and Sunday to transform part of an unused public alley into garden beds. They renamed it “Secret Garden of the Commons”. The alley was previously impassible due to overgrown invasive Himalayan Blackberry and has been transformed into more than 3 garden beds that people in Eugene can care for.
The project was initiated by two grassroots activist groups in Eugene: The Eugene Avant-Gardeners and Cascadia Forest Defenders. The Eugene Avant-Gardeners works to help people build gardens at their homes and CFD works to stop the logging on native forests in Oregon. Although these struggles may seem unrelated, these two groups came together to work on a community improvement project that would show the commonalities between the changes they want to see in Oregon. Both groups want to transform public space, whether that is in urban places or in the forest. The idea of a “garden for the people” was dreamed up as a way for urban people to bring nature closer to their everyday lives. Then a location was identified that, although owned by the City of Eugene, was being neglected and not serving its intended purpose.
The Avant Gardeners are a meshwork of volunteers and land spaces dedicated to meeting local food and health needs. The collective organizes work parties to build gardens for residents and in stagnant places. By developing long-terms relationships among community members, the collective hopes to increase decentralized food security.
Cascadia Forest Defenders believe that community resiliency is the only way that we will be able to stand up to economic adversity and climate change brought on by the injustice of industry. A great deal of economic insecurity has been caused by the boom and bust cycles of timber industry. Private timber companies own half the land in Lane County and Weyerhaeuser has 25% of that land all to themselves while people in the city face hunger, homelessness, and poverty. All of these issues are connected to how our local economy utilized natural resources including how we use our urban space and grow food. “When we take trees from the forest, wildlife is left without a place to live. When we take common spaces from the public, we have people without a place to be. We should recognize that urban public space is our habitat,” says Maria Farinacci of CFD. “We want this garden to be a symbol and inspiration for our community coming together,” she says.
The groups hope that this garden will be a prototype for changing the way people interact with public space. They hope this inspires people to look at the alley behind their house or even their own lawn to create something more valuable to them and to not be afraid to interact with the land they live on. They believe our cities are not separate from nature and we are not separate from each other just because we live in private homes.