Effort makes Joy Avenue a thing of beauty

Instead of brush and trash, there’s now a path and garden

mbatcheldor@theolympian.comJune 16, 2013 

Three years ago, it was a tangle of blackberry bushes, drug paraphernalia and trash, tucked away in thick brush in a vacant city right of way.

Today, there’s a gravel pathway meandering through woods and an edible garden full of dozens of ready-to-eat plants that passers-by are welcome to harvest.

The fresh scent of wood chips fills the air.

It’s the new Joy Avenue pathway, running for a city block between where Joy Avenue dead-ends at Tullis Street to Bethel Street Northeast. It’s the product of 920 volunteer hours, direction from the Northeast Neighborhood Association, and $3,400 from the city of Olympia.

Neighbors used city grants to attract donations of time and supplies from neighborhood residents, culminating in the equivalent of $25,250 in donations, according to the neighborhood association’s sign marking the park.

Neighbors held as many as 20 work parties, said the association’s president, Mike Dexel. “We just tried to create a little community space for people.”

Neighbors brought in 60 cubic yards of wood chips and a herd of goats for a couple of weeks to thin out the tangle of vegetation. Volunteers hauled out 3,900 pounds of trash.

Invasive plants were removed and native plants restored.

Neighborhood leaders held a celebration this month marking the opening of the trail and the edible garden. Little signs placed in the ground tell passers-by what goodies are in the ground, including ostrich fern, Oregon grape, Indian plum and salmonberry. Even dandelions are left in the ground, as you can eat them, Dexel said.

“Some of the things that look like weeds are actually edible,” he said.

The garden is maintained with volunteer labor and no pesticides.

“It was all hand-dug,” Dexel said.

The neighborhood connection was a test project for more neighborhood pathways that are now in the works.

Northeast neighbors are turning their attention to the next pathways project, on Puget Street from Miller Avenue to Jasper Avenue.

Two other projects are planned across town in the Northwest neighborhood: Scammell Avenue from Milroy Street to Division Street, and Woodard Avenue from West Bay Drive to Rogers Street.

The Olympia City Council approved the latest batch of pathway projects last month for an estimated cost of $149,000.

Matt Batcheldor: 360-704-686 mbatcheldor@theolympian.com @MattBatcheldor

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