BEND, Ore. - Since joining the Hollinshead Community Garden in northeast Bend six years ago, Joeth Ryan's experience has grown from having a place to get her hands dirty to a place for her kids to get hands on with their food.
"The kids were pretty little when we started, and they're into eating their veggies when they get to pick them, on their own," Ryan said Saturday.
Ryan says tending the little plot of land has become a part of her family's routine.
"It's just been a great way for me to learn, for my family to learn, and it's a lot of fun," she said.
Ryan and her family are just one of 90 tenders to this ever-changing land.
Co-coordinator Chris Miao says it's a community effort dating back to 1985. The land was donated to Bend Parks and Rec by the Hollinshead family.
"One of the stipulations of the will was that a garden be here, and that led to the birth of the Hollinshead Community Garden," Miao said.
It's blossomed into a hub for learning. Each of the gardeners has a mentor from OSU Extension Service's Master Gardener Program.
And the garden hosted its open house Saturday to show the public what it's all about, and to give visitors a chance to ask their own questions.
Robert Swanson came up from La Pine.
"I have one of these in my house, and I didn't know what it was, --and now I know it's wormwood, and it's a beautiful little plant to have," Swanson said.
The garden isn't just a place for exchanging knowledge, but also an oasis for growth in a region where gardening can be challenged by the climate.
"It's in a little pocket of warmth, that's often called the 'banana belt,'" Miao said. "There's great sun here, and the soil has been amended yearly since 1985, so the soil is just as rich and wonderful as can be."
And Ryan has reaped the benefits of that soil for the past six years.
"Beans, and peas, and tomatoes and onions and celery, and carrots and lettuce and spinach, all kinds of squash -- I think that's about it," Ryan said.
To learn more about getting a plot for next season, or to find out about upcoming classes, just visit the Central Oregon Master Gardner Association Website at http://www.gocomga.com.