A narrow garden extends several blocks along Jewett Street separating the shops, restaurants and offices from the street. Julia DeArmond nominated downtown White Salmon, Washington urban street garden.
“I enjoy the planting strips for the feeling of vitality it brings to the main streets of town,” Julia says. “I appreciate my city prioritizing beauty in this way.”
We at Envirogorge agree with Julia. The plantings create a colorful and welcoming atmosphere to the downtown. This street garden also stands out because of the partnership between community volunteers, businesses and the City of White Salmon. We’re awarding White Salmon Community Partners our second Nature Space Award.
The City originally planted the strip and even had a gardener who maintained it. Then around 2009 the city hit a water shortage and discontinued caring for it.
“The plants went to pot,” says Lloyd DeKay. The trees survived but the flowers and shrubs were in sad shape.
When the city resolved the water crisis, he and Celynn VanDeventer stepped up to take over. “We wanted it to look beautiful,” he says, “so we decided we could do this.”
The volunteers and businesses that joined them formed into a group called Community Partners and went to work restoring the blocks-long five foot wide the planting strip.
The partners put in a drip irrigation system that the city provided. Downtown businesses and citizens donated money to buy new plants. Today, five years later, the plants are thriving. Bees, spiders, and birds use it—demonstrating the health of the narrow ecosystem.
Several times a year Lloyd and Celynn put out a call for a work day.
“The community takes care of it,” Celynn says, “even people 10 miles up Snowden help. We did this because we wanted people to see that White Salmon is a beautiful place to visit. We want it to be inviting.”
Community Partners added more projects: painted salmon in downtown crosswalks, hired an artist to paint murals on fencing that blocks a couple of empty lots, and bought colorful banners for the light poles.
“Over the past five years there’s been a massive increase in community pride,” Lloyd says. “The whole community has gotten much more excited about downtown White Salmon. The town is beginning to stand out as a little gem.”