Mission Statement: The Multnomah Chapter of Master Gardeners will design, develop and maintain a community teaching garden showcasing edible and native plants while using a variety of sustainable gardening techniques and will involve the community in all phases of the garden.

Since 2008 the Multnomah County Chapter of the Oregon Master Gardeners have had a demonstration garden at the Green Thumb site in SE Portland. We have two areas there. Our original garden is at 6801 SE 60th Avenue, between Duke and Flavel, across from Brentwood Park. In 2017, we added an annex to the garden which is about four times the size of the original, and is at 6640 SE 57th Avenue. The two gardens are an short walk from one another in the same 12 acre site. 

So What is a Demonstration Garden?

There are many demonstration gardens in the United States, even quite a few in Portland. It might be better to ask, “What is the Multnomah Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden?

Another approach is to describe what we do:

  1. We grow plants, both edible and not.

  2. We teach other people how to grow plants.

  3. We experiment with gardening techniques.

  4. We keep accurate records of what we do.

  5. We donate all the food we grow to folks that need it .

There is also a Learning Garden run by the Multnomah County Master Gardener Program, which has been part of the community for 25 years. The focus of this garden is on teaching the local community how to use safe, sustainable gardening practices to grow food and native plants. It hosts neighborhood gatherings, educates and shares ideas with students from Lane Middle School, and works with and assists gardeners and urban farmers at the nearby community gardens plot. The Learning Garden plays an important part in the local community, serving its diverse population, acting as a community resource that helps spread the use of sustainable gardening practices, increases local food production and security, improves the local ecosystem, contributes to self-sufficiency, and creates and strengthens community relationships.

This demonstration garden will provide a learning source for Master Gardener training, community groups such as Lane Middle School, and group and individual garden tours. Produce will be donated to the Oregon Food Bank.

Goals

The Goals of this demonstration garden are to provide a garden space where visitors can learn by viewing, noting detailed signage, and discussing their questions and interests with on-site Master Gardener volunteers.

The garden showcases:

  • Ornamental and edible plants

  • Planting techniques

  • Horticulture methods

  • Growing processes

  • In-ground and container planting

  • Garden preparation

  • Cover crops

  • Edible plants of local cultural groups

  • Insectory plants

  • Plant productivity

  • Variety of composting methods

How many beds are in your garden?
The Multnomah County Master Gardener Demonstration Garden has 26 at the moment, providing almost 2000 square feet of healthy soil to grow fruits and vegetables.

Each year a volunteer takes responsibility for one (or more) of those beds, planning what to plant and when. Besides growing food to donate to food banks, we ask questions and seek the answers from our plants. Do grafted tomatos outproduce non-grafted? (Yes!) Does a reservoir-based container outproduce hand watering? (Yes!)  Come work with us, ask your questions of the plants, and learn what you can.

For more, check out our Demo Garden Facts.

Grafted vs non-grafted tomatoes photo: John Jordan

Grafted vs non-grafted tomatoes photo: John Jordan



 

Demo Garden Planning Group
The organization, or lack thereof, is one of the charms of the demo garden. A self-selected group of volunteers meets twice a month to evaluate our progress and plan for the future. There is no hierarchy! An agenda is started online, and anyone can add to it. A volunteer may agree to write the first draft of our Bed Design Template, and the group will suggest changes. Eventually the document is posted online. It can be quite enjoyable to have no designated leader!

So what is a Guru?
No, the garden guru does not sit with crossed-legs humming "om". At the Demo Garden, the garden guru of the day is a volunteer who agrees to arrive a little early that day, set out the task list, offer suggestions when questions come up, and document the work we accomplish. There are plenty of gardeners with copious experience to provide technical answers. The guru need not provide them, but just connect the questioner with a good source of answers. Offering to be one of the rotating gurus is simply an offer to take on more work, and thankfully folks do it!

Beds, Borders and Beyond
Recent improvements to the garden include revamped caneberry beds, new strawberry pyramids, expanded herb and rhubarb beds, and a highly-productive square foot garden. We planted a Vern’s Brown Turkey fig tree, improved our compost system, installed various bed borders (wattle, anyone?) and innovative potato boxes. We built a roomy garden shed, designed and installed a new “Demonstration Garden” sign, and provided habitat for ground-nesting bees. We improved the look along the garden fence with many attractive plantings and even have a new fridge to keep produce fresh until the next delivery day.

All Master Gardeners are welcome to visit, to help, to learn and to share their expertise. The Demo Garden is located at 6801 SE 60th Ave, Portland (between Duke and Flavel, across from Brentwood Park). We work from 9am to about noon on Mondays and Thursdays most of the year (February through mid-November). We hope you will join us! No sign-up is necessary, just stop by!  For more information, please contact mgdemogarden@gmail.com

How is the Demo Garden Doing?
To see the latest from the Demo Garden, check out the Demo garden News page.