By Monica McAllister, Nadaka Nature Park Coordinator

Four girls holding seedlings to be planted

It has been quite a winter for Oregon! With all the snow and rain, no doubt we have all experienced some cabin fever and can’t wait to finally get outside with friends and family. Luck for the Rockwood and Wilkes East neighborhoods, Nadaka Nature Park is just around the corner at 176th & NE Glisan Street and has many great free community events lined up for the year!

Nadaka has 10 acres of natural forest with trails, and 2 acres with a nature based play area, picnic shelter, and community garden. The park is open to all community members for free and provides a place for families and friends to gather, play, discover nature, and grow vegetables in the community garden. Friends of Nadaka host community events, volunteer opportunities, workshops, and nature walks for all ages.

Our mission is to “nurture nature, food, and families” by providing a safe place where people can access healthy and nutritional food, exercise to reduce obesity, and improve overall health outcomes. Nadaka not only address physical health but also, mental, social, and community health. Many young families gather at the sand pit and nature based play area which is perfect for kids to develop social skills, motor skills, and express themselves creatively no matter what age they are. Parents have the opportunity to bond with and teach their child as well as build friendships with other adults with youngsters. This may lead to playdates, support, and friendships outside of the realm of Nadaka. Being in nature helps reduce anxiety and depression and can help you be more present in your day to day routine. Stewardship and volunteer events at Nadaka provide an opportunity to meet your neighbor, gain a new skill, and work towards a common goal that is bigger than just one individual. Giving back to the community and Mother Nature can give us a sense of place, pride, and accomplishment.

child measuring wingspan
Woman holding Orange Flower
Billy Hustace Photography

In the garden, knowledge, culture, and food are shared freely. Parents teach their children the basics of gardening, such as weeding, watering, and harvesting while the gardener the next plot over offers bitter melon and advice on the best way to grow tomatoes. Being part of the community garden gets you outside doing physical work, getting much needed vitamin D, socializing, and learning new things from people of different cultures and ages. With our free gardening workshops offered throughout the year, you can learn to garden at home in your own backyard, on your balcony, or at a community garden. Gardening is a great way to learn about healthy food options that are accessible and affordable.

We have also played a vital role in shaping the health of the Rockwood & Wilkes East community by increasing access to nature, improving the livability and affordability of the Rockwood Town center, and growing cultural understanding through shared opportunities at the park. The Nadaka Community Festival in August celebrates different cultures through music and dance, provides environmental education for all ages, and allows local partners to promote important resources for community members. Our partnerships with schools like HB Lee Middle School and Rosemary Anderson High School’s STRYVE program encourage youth and their families to feel like leaders both at the park and in the community.

Our dedication to nurture nature, food, and families at Nadaka has provided a place that offers an opportunity for all ages to focus on the various aspects of healthy living. To get involved, find out about upcoming events, and for more information about Nadaka, please visit www.friendsofnadaka.org or join our “Friends of Nadaka” Facebook group, or contact Monica, the Nadaka Park Coordinator at monica@friendsofnadaka.org and 503-956-8558. Whether it is in the garden, at the play area, or in the forest, we hope to see you out and about at the park soon!

Billy Hustace Photography