Community Gardens Revisited to Assist Food Insecurity in Portland


Jeff Tarling, City Arborist with Laura Mallander, Urban Agriculture Specialist for Cultivating Community, at the North Street Community Garden, North Street. Munjoy Hill.

Organic Garden Plots at the North Street Community Gardens are Well-Defined as Should the Use Be Say the Managers.

A Sign at the North Street Community Garden Informs the Public on How to Register for a Community Organ.

Food insecurity in the City of Portland is a fact and it is growing more serious every day.  Far too many children experience it – in fact one in four children in Portland experience it. So  the city, with its partner Cultivating Community, who manages the city’s community gardens, are addressing the problem at the eleven community gardens throughout the city.

The North Street Community Garden was funded by Community Development Block Grant funds (“CDBG”)  – money intended to benefit this low-income neighborhood along with several others in Portland. For years, the Hill was viewed as a low-income neighborhood that many people avoided.   It was viewed as unsafe with drug use and sales rampant. That has all changed now.  Many low-income people have been evicted from the Hill to make way for the affluent.

“Gardners had to live within the neighborhood to be in it.  That was the only requirement. There are very few low-income people on Munjoy Hill that it was built for that are using it,” said Laura Mallander, urban agriculture specialist, for Cultivating Community.

So now, low-income residents jump to the top of the usually long waiting list for the roughly 40 garden plots throughout the city.   Mallander believes the need is there to educate the  low-income population of the community gardens because many do not have access to computers and don’t know about this city resource and that it’s real intention has always been for them.  With gentrification taking over Munjoy Hill like weeds taking over a garden plot, the need to clarify garden policies was overdue.  They needed to be revisited and enforced.

In recent years, there had been an increase in the number of thefts of produce from the North Street Community Garden.  It became so serious that a group called the “Garden Angels” was formed by Nini McManamy to take steps to stop it.  Signs were placed on the fence discouraging the behavior. A camera was installed over the tool shed to discourage produce theft as well.  Perhaps that was seen also as another indication of the seriousness of the food insecurity problem in the area. For more background information, please visit the post on the subject herein dated July 21, 2016.

Mallander, from Colorado, originally, moved to Portland to teach youth about gardening.  She ran the school gardening program at East End Community School on the Hill most recently.  Mallander earned a Master’s degree in education from Northwestern University, Chicago.  She taught school in Chicago and elsewhere before assuming this post.  She currently lives on the East End of Portland.

For more information on the program, please contact Mallander at: and see