Episode 7: Abe Long from the Roseburg Community Garden in Oregon

Abe Long from the Roseburg Community Garden


Tell me about your first gardening experience?

Abe and his wife spent 4 years in Peru working with tribal people out in the jungle on the border of Brazil.

What does organic gardening/earth friendly mean to you?

Best that we can in given circumstance most natural. sustainable, fewest chemicals, etc.

Who or what inspired u to start using organic techniques?

Partly Peru, documentaries on Netflix

(These weren’t suggested by Abe, but when I googled netflix food documentaries these were some of my favorite posts)




How did you learn how to garden organically?

Definitely both, saw how things were done in Peru, and studied for different climate up here in Oregon.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

Dinosaur Kale growing great right now. Community garden kale, collards, broccoli, swiss chard, bok choy to donate to a non-profit.

Is there something you would do different next year?

Using organic rabbit manure…realized it was calcium deficient which led to blossom end rot to tomatoes so would add more lime to soil to amend that.

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

Neighbors free range chickens came in, so putting up fencing.

Something that you find is easy to grow and is generally successful everytime.

Lettuces, spinaches and kales in early spring. Planting some tall shade plants helped extend season as it got hotter…

Something you would steer new gardeners away from that you find is typically challenging to grow in your climate.

Eggplant – could be variety issue. Melons don’t typically grow that well.

Eating or harvesting vegetables or fruit on time? 

Everybody loves to grow, water, weed etc but harvesting is very time consuming. Secret is donating to someone who can use it. Donate to one organization then they in turn would share to meals on wheels etc…take out middle man to donate directly to consumer. Least you can do is compost to put back in garden.

Do you have any secrets for preserving food-making it last? 

Drying, freezing or canning. Oregon State Master Gardener food preserver and extension service. Encourage people to plant extra, some for yourself, some for bugs, and some to donate.

Do you have any special techniques for cooking weird or unusual foods?

Yuca – manioc root. Like a potato with a thick bark.

A favorite recipe you like to cook from the garden?

Kale – cut up and sautee put over quiona or rice or noodles.

A favorite tool that you like to use? If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be.

My hands… scuffle hoe or stirrup hoe …always fighting weeds.

About the Community Garden


Fairly big garden … 48 plots combo of raised beds, and 16 x 6 and 16 x 16 sizes.

Looked at health statistics for the county, worst county in state of Oregon. Decomposed granite and concrete corners for wheelchair access. Highest percentage of disability (35.1%) in Oregon – obesity, smoking, depression – according Oregon Health and Science document.

Asked ourselves how do we make a place where everyone is included – we wanted to create a place where everyone is welcome. Need to incorporate 3 principles:

1. Food Security

2. Health

3. Education

Having community partners – creates buy in and ownership.

In order to move the needle trick is to get cultural change to eat healthier, and especially gardening is hard work. Teaching basic gardening classes for We Can Head Start kids. Put together some little grow bags that creates a mini garden creates 3-4 salads a week all year round for about $20. Teach them how to do rosemary propegation.

Built in logic model to track inputs and outcomes. Modulerized so people can say I like this, I want to take this to my home, school, etc … offer lots of technical help.

Lots of different people come seniors,  veterans, over 200 hours with inmate work crew, community groups, 3 different religious organizations including Lutheran, Methodist, and LDS all working together.  They have 62 different interested groups or partners. Inclusion is important its what sets them apart.

Creating a new accessible forest garden – new way of gardening -like the  Beacon Food Forest in Seattle or the Jacksonville Food Forest. Created in different levels/layers that have combos of fruit, nuts, etc… Tree level, shrub level, root level. Trying to focus on sustainable unique foods from their local community.

Also have a Bamboo forest where  people can eat fresh shoots. 5 different types of clumping bamboo.  Working on making it accessible so its inclusive for everyone to enjoy (IDEA). Breaking ground on planting different nut trees that are different sizes.

They have 3 Labryniths – one based on Chartes Cathedral in France.

3 R’s = Receive, release in center, and then you return.

Paleolithic labrynith from google – planter box full of mint.

They have a Synergy…. people are excited about it…veterans who have a green house now are going to grow starts for them and head start

There are lots of grants available for educational gardens and food forests…

A favorite internet resource?

Range Free Nurserys

Territorial Seed Co.

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can 

West Coast Food Forestry  by Rain Tenaqiya – free online book

Apps on Smart Phone – Grow planner and When to Plant,  Garden Compass – plant id or diagonsis – take pic and send it in. Moon Gardening app.

Master Gardener course. Access to info on internet is so much easier, does take a little more effort to find quality info, networking and coordinating. In community garden lots of helpful people. Helping  each other.

Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

Be artist of the possible. Dream up something and go for it. Easy idea and easy concept to grasp onto and buy into.


Contact Abe on Facebook 

Thanks for visiting Mike’s Green Garden. If you like what you heard on the Organic Gardener Podcast we’d love it if you’d give us a 5 star rating on iTunes so other gardeners can find us and listen to. Just click on the link here:


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