SAGE Garden: Education, Production, Community… and Concerts!

Harvested produce ready for delivery. Photo by Deanna Lloyd.

The signs of spring are upon us—flowers peeking up from the soil, lawns ready for a mowing—and already the Corvallis Environmental Center’s SAGE Garden is gearing up for another year of productivity. Responsible for providing almost four tons of food to local food agencies last year (such as Stone Soup and South Corvallis Food Bank benefited), SAGE’s output relies on the work of almost 600 volunteers, a few interns, and one garden manager.

“If you think about it, if 583 people in Corvallis came out last year, that’s about 1% of the population in Corvallis,” says Jen Brown, director of the Edible Corvallis Initiative, the program responsible for SAGE. “That’s pretty impressive for one little garden.”

Taking up one acre in Starker Arts Park, SAGE (Starker Arts Garden for Education) is adjacent to the Dunawi Creek Community Garden. However, SAGE is accessible to the whole city. And starting in April, Open Work Parties on Tuesday evenings will be back, inviting anyone—no gardening experience necessary—to come help maintain the garden between 4 and 6:30 p.m.

Lark, a volunteer at a Tuesday evening work party, harvesting in the fall. Photo by Deanna Lloyd.

“Everybody can show up, because you can learn,” emphasizes Brown. “Some people will have a lot of experience, and other people will think, ‘Well, this will be a fun way to learn how to do some things—I’ll go practice in somebody else’s garden.’ If that day they’re doing double-digging on some bed prep, you’ll learn how to do it. If they’re planting garlic one day, someone will show you, whether it’s the garden manager or one of the interns.”

To work in the garden outside of Tuesday evenings, contact garden manager Deanna Lloyd to make arrangements. SAGE also offers volunteer experiences for groups.

“We work with faith-based groups, student groups, OSU, home-school groups; a whole bunch of different service groups that want to come out,” says Brown. “They might want to be doing a service project, they might want to be giving back, they might want to be connecting with their community and volunteering in some way; they might want to be learning about sustainable agriculture and gardening—and all of those things can happen there.”

Volunteers from Samaritan Health during United Way's Day of Caring display the produce they harvested during a work party. Community organizations are more than welcome to set-up work parties for their groups out at the garden. Photo by Deanna Lloyd.

SAGE is designed for productivity, but is also home to a whimsical children’s garden, with a pond, strawberry hill and even a sun dial; perfect for keeping little ones occupied while the parents are busy in the long rows.

The garden is also host to an array of workshops, events, and class series. Registration is currently open for a new month-long organic gardening course (April 3-27)—a collaboration between SAGE, OSU Extension, and Oregon Tilth—that involves hands-on gardening experience and evening discussion sessions. Springtime also offers a children’s garden party—usually with fun things like scavenger hunts and face painting—as well as the Cooped Up in Corvallis chicken and duck coop tour. Come summer, SAGE hosts their annual fundraiser, Supper at SAGE, as well as weeklong classes for kids ages 5-11, morning time work parties especially for families, and continued workshops at the garden on such topics as composting and beekeeping. Fall brings the harvest and the Pumpkin Party, a festival that includes a raffle for the largest pumpkin, which can clock in at 200+ pounds.

“It’s really meant to be a community project,” says Brown. “It’s a great collaboration with the City, it’s a really great way to bring people together around food access, around service, around learning how to garden, and around nutrition.”

For up-to-date information about SAGE’s happenings, visit them online at http://www.corvallisenvironmentalcenter.org/edible-corvallis-initiative/sage.

Sunflowers lining a pathway along the garden this past summer. Photo by Deanna Lloyd.

New SAGE Benefit Concerts: Sounds of Summer

Karen DeWolfe has a vision: a donation-only concert series in the Starker Arts Park, with proceeds benefiting SAGE.

“The Dream?” says DeWolfe. “…Local Corvallis breweries would be asked to come join and set up a beer garden (dreaming big here). Families, students could come have supper in the park, come by bike, donate to the awesome SAGE garden, have a beer, listen to some music outside, kids can run around, dance play.”

That dream is in the process of becoming a reality.

Venue and bands are secured: July 11th and 25th, from 6-10 p.m., stop by the Starker Arts amphitheater to listen to some groovy tunes. Psych Country Revue, Brutal Bridges, and Meatbomb are currently confirmed, with more bands in negotiations. DeWolfe is currently seeking beer/wine/cider vendors and concession stands. No matter what, live music and lovely summer evenings are a perfect combination.

Think you can help? Contact Karen DeWolfe at 541-753-4066.

by Mica Habarad

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