In 2000, Will Levenson and Starr Hogeboom, Friends of Trees volunteers who were in the Cully neighborhood selling trees door-to-door, noticed an ugly, dusty piece of land that Rigler School was using for overflow parking. Given that the neighborhood had no park, they came up with the idea of creating a community garden in that space. For the next two years, they applied for grants, recruited volunteers, solicited donations from local businesses, filed for city permits, and negotiated a lease with Portland Public Schools to prevent the land from being sold. In total, the group received $60,000 in grants and $10,000 in fundraising. Donated materials were worth an estimated $40,000. The garden opened in September 2005.
The Rigler Peace Garden, as it was unofficially named by the group of volunteers who built it, is used for both community gardening and for education. Its entrance, made of bricks and featuring a shiny sculpture made of galvanized steel and student artwork, invites children to learn about natural science as well as how to grow flowers and vegetables. A concrete path leads to a gazebo where teachers hold class. The inverted roof of the gazebo captures rainwater and funnels it down a chain into an underground storage tank that is connected to a hand-operated water pump. The north side of the garden is shaded by dozens of native trees, each one sponsored by a different Rigler classroom.