Discord at the North Street Garden; Strategy Meeting Planned

Flowers at the North Street Community Garden.

Flowers at the North Street Community Garden.

Anne Mangaurello, one of the "Garden Angels" at the North Street Community Garden.

Anne Mangaurello, one of the “Garden Angels” at the North Street Community Garden.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 2,656)

The leader of the “Garden Angels” Nini McManamy, has called a meeting for tomorrow noon at the North Street Community Garden bench according to one of the “Angels.” The meeting is to discuss the next steps the Angels should take regarding their grievances at the Garden.  The Garden is located on Munjoy Hill. (No rain date has been announced.)

Last summer gardeners noticed that produce was being stolen from the North Street site.  A lock was placed on the gate, but it didn’t work. People jumped the fence anyway.  Samaya Jones, a nearby Hill resident, has seen people coming in to the Garden at night with flashlights and leaving with produce that is not theirs.  She has also witnesses young people coming in during the day time and snapping up produce. This year the Angels tried to get ahead of the garden bandits and met with several city officials to resolve the problem before the produce starts rolling in soon.

One gardener that mhn.com has spoken with several times said that she is “sick and tired” of all the fighting, bickering and name calling  over garden problems  “It’s spoils my time at the garden. I don’t care.  Let them take what IMG_5072they want,” she said without giving her name.

But Ethan Hipple, Director of Parks for the City of Portland does not agree with locking public spaces even if they are gardens with plots that gardeners rent from the city.  “We don’t lock community gardens that are public spaces.  They are designed to be open spaces where the public can walk through and enjoy,” said Hipple today in a telephone conversation.  He acknowledged that there is a problem in the North Street Community Garden, but he hopes to deal with it in a different way.

Signs will be mounted in the near future asking people to respect the gardeners hard work.   Hipple also admitted that cameras surveying those who enter the garden could be mounted, but he was coy about whether or not it had happened.   “We do want to find out who is taking from the Garden and put a stop to it,” said Hipple.

Anne Mangauello one of the Angels and a long-time North Street gardener said today that in addition to an increase in the garden fees from $35. – $50. gardeners have saved the city money by fixing a fence that was in disrepair and providing its own rain barrel.

“I saw a camera at the Garden today.  It’s on top of the tool shed,” said Mangauello in response to Hipple’s comment.

(editor’s note:  McManamy was a leader in the anti-development effort at 58 Fore Street recently.)