It's not much to look at now: bare dirt, rocks and a couple trees -- but Bend city officials and community members have big plans for a chunk of land in northeast Bend.
Bend recently secured a $5,000 grant to build the community garden at the corner of Franklin Avenue and Eighth Street.
"We have the plots that will be going in the center perimeter, but we're going to be surrounding that with an edible food forest, so it will be fruit trees, edible shrubs, edible plants," city Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Howard said Tuesday.
Community members and groups will help build the garden, and about 100 plots will be available to rent for a season.
Howard says she hopes they will break ground in April and the garden will open in May.
The garden will be on a plot of land roughly the size of three city lots. A patch of land that the city had to maintain.
Howard said it's a win-win situation, giving residents access to growing their own food while reducing maintenance costs for the city.
She said the garden will take less water than the previous turf, which also had to be mowed.
It will also help alleviate the city's issues with storm runoff in the area.
"We also had a maintenance issue with storm water in the neighborhood," Howard said. "So with this particular maintenance project, we were able to build a storm water infiltration system, and now we're topdressing it with a community garden."
The garden will be maintained by volunteers, meaning less work for city employees. Howard said many partners, including local schools and clubs, have expressed interest in getting involved in the garden.
And Master Gardner Chris Miao's ears always perk at the word garden.
Miao, a co-coordinator of Hollinshead Community Garden, said that come spring, lines of people will wait, in hopes of getting a plot at her garden. She said many people end up on a waiting list.
"It's definitely a growing trend for people to be growing their own food," Miao said. "And many don't have a space at home to do that, so a community garden is their only opportunity."
Miao said people are concerned with where their food comes from and express interest in keeping produce organic.
And this spring, Miao will spend several hours, several days a week at the community garden.
As a garden "junkie," she's excited even more people will have the chance to get their hands dirty in a new garden.
Miao said community gardens are an opportunity to build community and work toward a common goal -- and a chance to meet new people and spend quality time with family.
"(People) have a picnic here in the garden," she said. "They come in, harvest some fresh tomatoes and some lettuce, make a salad, eat in the park -- what more could you want?"
The city's grant is part of Fiskars' Project Orange Thumb, and was secured under the non-profit organization Celebrate Bend.
Franklin's Corner Garden will receive $3,500 for materials and a $1,500 Fiskars tool kit.
Community members who wish to grow produce in the garden will have to pay a plot fee.
Howard said prices haven't been set, and they will likely fall in line with other community garden's fees, such as Hollinshead.
Each plot will be 4-by-4 feet, and Howard said fees will help offset water bills.
If you would like to learn more about the garden project, volunteer, or donate gardening supplies, call Howard, the volunteer coordinator, at 541.388.5579.