September 23, 2019

Graduate School Community Garden Project

Near the end of summer 2018, Raquel Harmon MA ’20, who is in the Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy Program, came across an abandoned space that sparked a therapeutic green initiative.
  • Raquel Harmon MA '20

Near the end of summer 2018, Raquel Harmon MA ’20, who is in the Marriage, Couple, and Family Therapy Program, came across an abandoned space that sparked a therapeutic green initiative. The Graduate School Community Garden Project began “during a class activity,” says Harmon. “I took a walk and noticed the abandoned space over by the overflow parking…I immediately thought, we have to do something with this beautiful space!” 

The Community Garden Project came to life during fall 2018 when Harmon reached out to Lewis & Clark’s Director of Sustainability, Amy Dvorak, who helped plan for space and the fence repair. By the spring of 2019, logistics were nearly finalized and the first meeting was held with other graduate students to begin cleaning and prepping the space. Harmon says that the Community Garden Project has as a goal to restore the old garden plots and to produce in a way that contributes to the community. One part of the garden will be purely a community plot and other parts will be available for students to grow whatever they would like. Harmon added that the garden will focus on growing flowers and vegetables as well as caring for the established fig free, kiwi plants, and the wonderful peach trees.

As the Community Garden Project gains momentum, Harmon says that there is a team of about five people who are scheduled to work Thursday afternoons. Although the team is expected to grow as classes come to an end, Harmon relies on two of her peers, Emily Palmgren ’20 (MCFT) and Sonya Zimina (Art Therapy), who were the initial members for the garden project and core members for the overall project. 

Harmon embarked on her personal gardening journey through Multnomah county’s Master Garden OSU Extension Service and soon after became a Master Gardener Intern. In addition, Harmon volunteers at OSU Demo Garden and dedicates time to her own personal community garden plot. Harmon expressed that her desire for gardening started as a home project with her partner and his younger siblings. 

“We decided it could be fun to garden, so we built a garden bed and just leaped into it. It was a lot of fun and it sparked a real joy for me and here is so much gardening can teach us. My hope is to work mainly with children and in schools and gardening is such a creative and expressive way to practice building social skills, emotional regulation, and communication. I think gardening is also a really beautiful way to practice mindfulness and grounding.”

In addition to the tremendous work that Harmon and her team have done to restore the old garden plots, she is a therapy intern at the Lewis & Clark Counseling Center and holds two external positions where she works with children of multiple ages providing supporting services. Even though she is not using her gardening skills in her therapy practice (yet) she hopes to soon incorporate her credentials and experience to “find ways to use nature and gardening as a therapeutic intervention, especially with children with ADHD, Autism, and Sensory/Spectrum disorders.” 

Get Involved!

Interested graduate and undergraduate students, as well as staff and faculty, are invited to participate in the garden project.

“I really believe in this being a campus community project, and so everyone is welcome to join!” says Harmon. “We want this to foster community. So often we all are so busy in our own program we don’t really get to know the other programs, students, faculty, or staff that well and I’d love if this garden helped to bridge this gap!” 

“The best way to reach out is to email, let us know you are interested, and then come to the next scheduled workday where you can dig in and get to meet some really great people!”