Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Sharing Gardens is Going to Court!

The Sharing Gardens is the active ministry of the Full Circle Family Church. To see our full Sharing Gardens site, CLICK HERE

The Sharing Gardens is in the process of applying for an exemption from paying property taxes and we need letters of support from as many people as possible by Friday, May 15, 2015 -- (sent to the email below). If you have been touched by what we do--either directly through receiving seeds, starts or vegetables; participated as a volunteer, received mentorship or guidance on starting a similar project and/or growing food organically; or you are one of the thousands of people who come to our website from all over the world each month, please write us a letter of support so we can show the court that what we do makes a positive difference in your life!

All government buildings, libraries and public service agencies such as police and fire departments are exempt from paying property taxes. Some non-profit agencies and projects are also granted exemptions if they can prove that they are providing valuable services to the public that supplement or augment government programs. We feel that the Sharing Gardens qualifies. The money that we save from paying taxes can go directly into keeping the Sharing Gardens thriving and expanding.

Here are some facts about the project:
  • The Sharing Gardens was begun in 2009 (we are now entering our seventh season).
  • We are 100% non-commercial and rely entirely on donations and volunteer labor for the success of the project.
  • We save 85% - 90% of our own seed which we share freely at seed swaps and to local gardeners. Seed-saving is one of those skills that is a dying practice but one that we hope to keep alive and teach others how to do.
  •  We grow all our own 'starts' from seed. Each year we give away literally hundreds of these 'starts' to other local sharing-type gardens and non-commercial gardeners. This amounts to over 2/3 of the starts we grow.
  • All the vegetables we grow are shared freely with volunteers and local food charities. In 2012 (the last year we kept records) we shared over 6,000 pounds of food and hundreds of heads of lettuce and other greens. Our capacity to grow and share is still expanding. For many of our recipients we provide their only source of organic produce. No one is ever charged money for the food that is grown.
  • Our educational website receives over 8,000 visits per month! People come from all over the world seeking simple, clearly illustrated information about growing food without the use of harmful chemicals. We also teach about using local materials such as leaves and grass for soil fertility to begin weaning gardeners away from using commercial products mined and shipped from far away places in unsustainable ways. We are giving new meaning to the idea of growing 'local' food (if you have to ship your soil amendments from half-way around the world, just how local and sustainable is it?)
  • We provide mentorship to other people starting up sharing-type community gardens where they live.
  • We have begun forming partnerships with the local County Health Dept. and Health Clinic to assist them in delivering a class on changing life-style habits (including food choices) to increase health and well-being in the obese and pre-diabetic.
  • Since 2013, when we began hosting Oregon State University students "service learning" projects we have had at least 17 groups of 4-6 students each spend four-hours learning about organic farming, experiencing first-hand the spirit of generosity.
  • Nine months out of the year we have volunteer sessions 1-3 times a week. Our "Share-Givers" learn about gardening, form new friendships and experience the feeling of sanctuary that the gardens provide.
Kids in the carrot patch.
We feel that one of the most important "services" we provide is one of inspiration! In a world that is overrun with competition and strategies of "giving the least to get the most" we feel it is especially important to provide a demonstration of the power of generosity. The Sharing Gardens is an oasis of hope in a desert of cynicism and despair. Each year as we plant seeds in the soil that will grow to ripeness and feed the bodies of those in our community, we are also planting seeds of love, inspiration and joy that will feed people spiritually as well. If you are one of those people who has been touched or fed by the Sharing Gardens, please send us a note about it today!

Please include:
  • Your name and where you live
  • Your title and name of organization you represent (if relevant). Letters on letter-head are particularly persuasive.
  • Email is fine, or a Word-doc or PDF. Send to: Our Email address
  • Please address your correspondence to "Whom it May Concern".
  • Send ASAP, by Friday May 15, 2015 at the latest (we have only one chance to make our case).
Regardless of the outcome of our case, we will do our best to continue to provide this public service for as long as we are able. Thank you for all the ways you have shown us your support in the past and the ways you are making the world a better place in your own way! Much love, Llyn and Chris

P.S. The Sharing Gardens is already a legal non-profit organization (a church) and can receive tax-deductible donations. This court case will simply determine if we must pay annual property-tax.

Update on the Court Case: Our case has been heard by an Oregon Magistrate and a decision been made. To read about it, follow this link and scroll down through the post on our Sharing Gardens site.

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