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At La Clinica, ‘el jardin comunitario’ grows again

May 21, 2005

Hardworking kids from the Teen Court and Juvenile Court Work Crew last week put the finishing touches on a stylish new fence around “el jardin comunitario,” Hood River’s community garden.

Jose Sandoval, Teen Court Coordinator for The Next Door, provided adult guidance for the teenagers, who spent three full weekends building the new wooden fence.

The garden is on the grounds of La Clinica del Cariño Family Health Care Center at the corner of Pacific Avenue and Eighth. Soon the garden will be a patch of colorful blooms and greenery.

Community volunteers reclaimed the long-neglected corner lots last year, removing trash and overgrown shrubs, installing an irrigation system, and building up the soil for the area’s newest community garden.

“For the garden’s second season, we hope to emphasize its community-building possibilities,” said La Clinica’s executive director, Daniel Ward. “We’re surrounded by apartment dwellers who don’t have access to land for growing their own food. We’re a community-owned clinic, and we have extra land, so we think we should share with our neighbors.”

This year’s volunteer garden coordinator is Linda Floyd, a longtime Hood River resident and experienced gardener. “I’m eager to help people who may not have gardened before discover the pleasure of raising their own food,” she said.

In addition to acquiring donations from Next Door, Inc. and area businesses, Floyd secured a small grant from Hood River County’s Commission on Children and Families to enable fence construction and irrigation improvements. Some of the grant funds have also gone to providing seeds and vegetable starts for first-time gardeners.

The garden will also be a teaching resource for some of the participants in La Clinica’s weight management programs. “For some people, reacquiring their tastes for unprocessed fresh fruits and vegetables helps get their weight under control. Healthy food seems to taste better when you’ve grown it yourself,” Ward said.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to teach and learn from each other, to build on the diversity of our community, and just have fun digging in the dirt,” added Floyd.

Odell orchardist Calvin Smith tilled the garden this weekend. Layout of the pathways between the plots is underway. Plots will be available for planting by the end of this week.

People who are interested in gardening can call La Clinica at 386-6380 to get in touch with Linda Floyd, the volunteer Community Garden Coordinator.

The garden can accept tax-deductible donations from individuals and businesses, such as seeds, seedlings or starts, nursery stock, gardening tools, and benches. Arrangements can be made by calling Daniel Ward at 308-8354.

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La Clinica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc. (LCDC) is a nonprofit community health center in Hood River and The Dalles, dedicated to providing high quality medical and dental care in a manner that honors the cultural, ethnic, social, and economic concerns of the 73,000 people of the Mid-Columbia Gorge.

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