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An orchard and community grows in Lents

BPS partners with Green Lents to create a Lents oasis.

malden court beforeFor decades, a forlorn half-acre vacant lot covered by an 8-foot wall of Himalayan blackberries and unknown hidden debris, remained a nuisance site for illegal dumping and illicit activity. Tucked away along a gravel road adjacent to the Springwater Corridor in the West Lents Floodplain, the site was given to the Bureau of Environmental Services by Multnomah County to be used for stormwater management. No longer needed for that purpose, but unable to be sold or developed, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability’s sustainable food program thought the property could be put to good use.  

“While the site didn’t seem suitable for annual crops, it became clear that an orchard or food forest that could also serve as a community gathering space would be a great option,” said Steve Cohen, food policy and program manager for BPS. “But, it was going to take a strong community partnership with neighbors who shared the vision and were up for a challenge.”

A 2012 walk through the surrounding neighborhood led Cohen to a serendipitous meeting with a gardener  and many neighborhood gatherings. As a result, the property was transferred to BPS and was leased to Green Lents, a non-profit founded to engage the Lents community in developing a more livable, thriving place. Green Lents secured over $200,000 worth of donations and grants, including one from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. The agency funded an environmental assessment and brought in a herd of goats to clear the land. With additional support from Business Oregon, 248 tons of refuse and soil were removed and the site was awarded a “No Further Action” designation.  

malden court afterMany work parties later, the Malden Court Community Orchard was officially opened on a rainy Saturday in September. Neighbors noted that the transformation will not only provide food and a community gathering space, but also improves public safety, benefits the Johnson Creek watershed, provides educational opportunities, and increases neighborhood livability for the diverse community surrounding the orchard.

 “Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, partners, and funders, the site is being transformed into a food forest full of fruit-bearing trees, shrubs and native plants, said Alison Hilkiah, Lents resident and MCCO committee member. “We are so happy to have space that will help our community emotionally, physically, and psychologically.” 

From Sustainability at Work: GoGreen Portland

9th annual event welcomed Mayor-elect Wheeler for the opening keynote address.

GoGreen attendeesOver 300 representatives from the public and private sectors convened October 5 for the 9th annual GoGreen conference sponsored by Sustainability at Work, a program of the City of Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

Mayor-elect Wheeler emphasized in the opening keynote, “There is no question that reversing and combating climate change is this generation’s greatest challenge.”

At the same time, Portland will need to accommodate unprecedented growth. “Portland is expected to grow by 223,000 households by 2035,” stated Joe Zehnder, chief planner at the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, in a dynamic discussion on density. Climate, equity and economic development are at the forefront of the City’s Comprehensive Plan, and were at the forefront of the day’s sessions – showing collaborative support across public and private sectors. 

Attendees gained insights from entrepreneurs on the forefront of a low-carbon economy — companies like IOTAS, delivering smart home technology, and Building Energy, offering energy service providers and building owners performance benchmarking tools.

Sustainability at Work outreach tableBusinesses, such as FYMI, CLEAResult, Northwest Natural and Pacific Continental Bank, shared strategies for promoting green practices in the workplace. Successful strategies included: Internal grant programs for employee-generated sustainability initiatives, billable hour accounts for sustainability-related efforts, and annual volunteer days with environmentally focused non-profits. Additional suggestions included building sustainability questions into job postings and interview questions, and creating leadership development opportunities within internal green team efforts.

Presenters shared how their businesses are preparing for game-changing technologies. Laura Bisesto, public policy manager for Lyft, shared her prediction that in five years, autonomous vehicles will provide the majority of Lyft rides across the country, and that by 2025, private car ownership will end.

“The event was a great opportunity to connect with contacts in the green business community and get re-energized,” said Elee Jen with Energy Performance Engineering.

Celebrating Autumn and five years of food scraps

In 2015, Portlanders collected more than 75,000 tons of yard debris and food scraps.

Portland residents have been composting food scraps through curbside collection for five years — and the results have been fantastic! We’ve done a great job of collecting material from our kitchens and yards so nutrient-rich compost can be created for farmers, gardeners and landscapers and used to suppress weeds, conserve water and improve the health of the soil.  

In 2015, Portlanders collected more than 75,000 tons of yard debris and food scraps. That’s enough compost to fill a four-story building the size of Pioneer Courthouse Square. Keep up the good work!

rotting pumpkins in roll cartPumpkin time!

After celebrating autumn holidays, remember to compost pumpkins and gourds in the green roll cart too. This is the time of year to include seasonal food scraps like apple and pear cores and leftover or half-eaten candy (without wrappers). Pruned items, yard debris and fallen tree fruit also go in the green Portland Composts! roll cart.

Yard debris includes weeds, leaves, vines, grass, flowers, plant clippings and small branches (less than 4 inches thick and 36 inches long). Large branches that may come down during storms or stumps that are too big for your curbside container can be collected by your garbage and recycling company with advance notice (and extra fees) or taken to a recycling depot.

Watch the weight!

Don’t forget there are roll cart weight limits, especially with heavy pumpkins and wet leaves. The 60-gallon green composting roll carts have a 135-pound limit.

Leaf Day

From mid-November to mid-December, removing leaves from our streets is critical because they can clog storm drains, flood intersections and make streets slippery. Some Portland residents have street tree Leaf Day Pickup based on where they live.

Are you in a Leaf Day Pickup area?

Find out here or call 503-865-LEAF (5323).