June 2019, a small group of dedicated members of the Unitarian Churches Congregations for Climate Change formed a committee to promote individual and community organic gardens as a way to help reverse the effects of global warming. They called themselves “Yamhill County Victory Gardens” with the mission statement, "To promote, educate and encourage personal and community organic edible gardens to help alleviate global warming and food shortages and to support sustainability." Victory Gardens were introduced during WWI and WWII as programs to encourage citizens to grow vegetable gardens to help with the war effort.
Victory Gardens of Yamhill County was focused on educating people to the seriousness of global warming and in offering solutions that are available to all through changes in our daily lives. Ideas such as buying locally and creating small garden spaces by planting or maintaining a “Victory Garden” in any available space. A presentation at the McMinnville library drew a large crowd of interested people and introduced the concept, People were encouraged to get involved.
Classes called “From Seed to Supper” were sponsored for free through the Oregon Food Bank and the OSU Extension Service and taught by Master Gardener volunteers. These classes were designed to help new gardeners figure out ways they could grow organic vegetables in small spaces to create a healthier living and diet. Sharing surplus produce was encouraged in many ways such as curb side giving boxes as well as donations to local food banks.
Lists of resources were produced to help people buy fresh, organic produce locally in order to help reduce the transport pollution that contributes to global warming. Farmers Market locations, times and months available were listed, as well as CSAs that people could participate in.
Composting and recycling were strongly encouraged and information was provided on how to compost and recycle. Earth worms were even given out as a door prize at the first Victory Garden meeting.
2020, the group moved forward and changed their name to Edible Landscapes of Yamhill County. They incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit with the state of Oregon, developed new by-laws and started a social media presence on Facebook and through a webpage.
Spring 2020, a seedling give away was organized in a parking lot
in McMinnville from seedlings donated from individuals and were handed out at no charge to people interested in planting.
Fall 2020, the first Harvest give away was organized with produce donated from The Grange Farmer’s Market as well as individuals donating
Looking for a location to create a demonstration garden and draw people into creating small gardens of their own, founder and President Bettie Egerton found an ideal location on Alpine Ave. in McMinnville. The City of McMinnville had started an Urban Renewal project to renovate the Granary District and had placed 21 harvest boxes and 7 aluminum rounds along Alpine Ave.
The City's plan was for local business and residents to plant and care for these boxes, but they remained empty for a number of years. Edible Landscapes applied to the City of McMinnville to plant the boxes with edible plants to be cared for by volunteers.
2021, Edible Landscapes and the City of McMinnville signed a contract to allow Edible Landscapes to plant and maintain all of the harvest boxes and rounds along Alpine Ave. from 7th Ave. to 10th Ave. The following groups and local business provided sponsored the seed money to get this program started: Visit McMinnville, Ultimate RB, Granary District, Zero Waste McMinnville, Rhodes Construction, as well as a number of individual sponsors.
An enthusiastic group of volunteers appeared on the scene to take responsibility for planting, watering and maintaining the harvest boxes and rounds with individual themes. Signs were created to explain the project as well as what each box/round contained to create interest, and to demonstrate how small home organic vegetable gardens are very doable.
Spring 2021, Edible Landscapes organized the second annual seedling give away from seedlings donated by many different individuals. The event was held outdoors at the Mac Market. Visitors not only received seedlings for their home gardens, they received gardening tips and additional information about Edible Landscapes.
Fall 2021, the Giving Box was started on Alpine Ave. to replace the very successful Harvest Give Away from 2020. People from the community donated extra produce and Edible Landscapes volunteers gleaned from The Grange Farmer’s Market on a weekly basis. Community members visited the box at their convenience to select items they could use.
Walking tours were encouraged along the Alpine Ave harvest boxes and rounds with educational signs as well as an in person walking tour with volunteers of the project.
In addition to direct financial sponsorship, local businesses helped support Edible Landscapes efforts with access to space, and free coffee. In late fall 2021, Brittan Vineyards partnered with Edible Landscapes for a Holiday fundraising event.
Spring 2022. Plans are in the works for planting the Alpine Avenue boxes and adding 3 new boxes to fill the gap between the end of the current boxes and Mac Market. The third annual seedling give away will be held in May. Edible Landscapes is also partnering with local businesses to create mixed garden spaces (ornamental plants combined with edible plants) along Alpine Avenue. and is looking to broaden its outreach to other locations in McMinnville and elsewhere in the county.
Volunteers as board members continue to share our mission and goals in creating a better world.