Community garden lifestyle

A tomato hangs from a vine at the Lovin’ Spadefuls Community Garden in Hermiston in 2019.

As the list of things Oregonians can still do while preventing the spread of COVID-19 shrinks, gardening could be a good way to safely spend time out of the house.

For now, gardeners in Hermiston will have to use their own yards instead of the Lovin’ Spadefuls Community Garden, but they’re hopeful that might change later in the season.

Chelle Hankinson, the garden’s facilitator, said no one is allowed on the site because it is located on Good Shepherd Health Care System’s hospital campus, and access to the campus is tightly restricted at the moment. There were also concerns about whether proper social distancing could be maintained if too many people were in the garden area at once.

“Right now we’re going with what the hospital is asking us to do,” she said. “It’s their site and their property, and we want to respect that.”

The community garden’s season usually starts May 1. Hankinson said activity might not be able to return to the garden quite that soon, but there are plenty of plants that would do well after being planted in June or July.

“The good thing about gardening is you can start any time,” she said.

The garden’s spring class had a record-breaking 28 participants before the last two classes were canceled. Hankinson said she sent home free seeds with participants, and has been dropping off other seeds to others who have decided to start a garden at home while they physically isolate at their residence.

Lovin’ Spadefuls had to postpone some activities, such as a plan for FFA students to install drip lines, but Head Start recently donated a greenhouse that they will be able to install on site at some point.

For those who are looking to start a garden, master gardeners have been posting tips, articles and videos to the OSU (Oregon) Master Gardener Facebook page.

Because of a sudden surge in interest in learning how to garden, OSU is making its online Vegetable Gardening course available for free through the end of April at workspace.oregonstate.edu/course/master-gardener-series-vegetable-gardening.

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