History

People in the GardenAt one time, this land was part of the Willamette Valley Wet Prairie which covered large areas of the Willamette Valley and up into Washington state. After the first settlers arrived and the new town began to grow, the area near Skinner Butte quickly moved from primarily agricultural use to a combination of municipal, private and institutional uses. During the WPA era, the retaining walls and stairs on the north side of the butte were built. The site was also used as a car camp, and after World War II part of the land at Lincoln and Cheshire was developed as temporary housing for returning veterans. Also in the 40s, Leonard Ropp operated an azalea nursery on the site that is now Skinner City Farm.The Skinner City Farm project started when a mound of fill dirt from a downtown construction project appeared on this site in 1997. After many neighbors expressed their concerns, the mountain of soil was finally removed and the community began to consider options for the site that would benefit the environmental system of the Willamette River Greenway, express the cultural history of the site and meet community-wide needs.

The first draft proposal and endorsements for a new Community Garden were submitted to the City of Eugene in Spring 1999 and were eventually approved as part of the comprehensive Master Plan for Skinner Butte Park. Skinner City Farm (SCF), a non-profit entity, was founded in 2000 to create a vision and a program for the Farm.

In 2002, SCF worked with students from the Center for Appropriate Transport and Looking Glass Lane Metro Youth Camp to build a basic fence structure out of cedar and horse fencing. In 2003, local landscape architects and designers drafted a living fence plan that included over 20 native species. In 2003 and 2004, students and SCF volunteers worked on the fence design and planted over 250 plants.

In Spring 2004, the designs for eight historic steel gate panels were developed and drawn by local artist Susan Applegate (of the famed Applegate settler family). Each of the eight panels depicts a detailed historic scene. You can see the gates at the north, south, east and west sides of the Skinner City Farm Community Garden living fence.

SCF is a grassroots effort that has been supported throughout its development by an interested core group of naturalists, urban farmers, educators and historians as well as Parks Planning, a variety of non-profits and elected officials. As the community at large further embraces the concept of Skinner City Farm, additional site planning, fund raising and partnership agreements will take place.

The purposes of Skinner City Farm include the following:

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