Environmental History of a Community Garden:
 Getting to Know the Land that Sustains Us

3 generations + tree
Three generations standing in front of the house where my dad grew up, and next to his favorite climbing tree, September 2014, before both were removed to make space for a new dorm.

Tomorrow, February 23, 2016, I’ll be giving a talk based on environmental history research I did about the land on which the George Fox University Community Garden used to reside. I’ll be speaking to the Newberg Historical Society and any others who want to attend, and it will be held at the Chehalem Cultural Center at 7pm.

The land held special significance for me because right across a little street called E. North St. from the garden was the house my dad and grandparents lived in when they first moved to Oregon. In the last year, the house was demolished and a dorm is sitting there, and the garden space was paved over for a parking lot, but we got a beautiful new location for the community garden, so it wasn’t all bad. I don’t have personal family history on the land of the new space, but I do know that it was part of a donation land claim owned by one of the first Quakers in the area, William Hobson. That land may represent the location for a future research endeavor.

View of Newberg from the air
I’ll include historical photos and maps to show the changes in the land use over time, such as this aerial photo of Newberg, ca. 1939, which appeared in the Newberg Graphic’s Diamond Anniversary Edition, 1963.

For my talk tomorrow night, I’ll begin with a brief geological history of the Willamette Valley, then discuss the Kalapuya tribes that used to inhabit this valley, and narrow the geographical focus down to the Chehalem Valley, Newberg, the Deskins Donation Land Claim, and the specific land of the garden and my grandparents’ house as I go, focusing on land use. As I did this study, I found it interesting how difficult it was to trace a particular piece of land and its uses, as opposed to a person’s genealogy or history. I enjoyed learning about this piece of land that provided food and memories for generations of my family, especially right before it changed land use so drastically.

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 Getting to Know the Land that Sustains Us”

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