Auntie Mim’s Garden Initiative

About the program

The Auntie Mim’s Garden located at 255 Maxwell Rd, Eugene OR is an open garden developing into the direction of a food forest. We invite our BIPOC and like-minded supportive community members to use this garden as an arena for internship expansion, resource sharing, experiential learning and climate change development and practices. Our intention is to expand the network of community gardens, develop community garden site monitors for those gardens, create long term relations with local farmer/gardeners and find the connecting point that leads to local sustainability and shared supply chains of our basic resources. For more information/questions, please call (541) 484-1119

History of Auntie Mim’s Garden Initiative

In the 1940s, C.B. and Annie Mims moved from Texas to Vancouver, where Mr. Mims worked in a shipyard during WWII. Post-war Oregon experienced a period of economic and technological growth in lumber. As a skilled millwright, Mr. Mims moved to Eugene in 1947, where he could prosper in this field. However, due to racial discrimination, he never found work. Instead, Mr. Mims became a busboy at the Osborne Hotel. He developed a close relationship with the owner Joe E. Earley Sr. Oregon’s Exclusion laws prohibited black Americans from owning land, real estate, or living in white neighborhoods. Like many other black Americans, the Mims family lived in an encampment across the river. The inhabitants there experienced harsh conditions with no electricity or running water. Finally, in 1948, Joe E. Earley Sr. purchased a house and signed the deed over to Mr. Mims, effectively circumventing Oregon’s exclusion laws. Lane County demolished Tent City to build the Ferry Street Bridge the following year.
The Mims House was designated a historic landmark in 1979. The Eugene-Springfield Branch of the NAACP manages the gothic-style home. The Mims house remains a legacy for uniting black community members with resources, a sense of belonging, and engagement.
Oregon has a vast history of racial discrimination against non-white individuals. The state directly excluded non-white people from 1844 until the passage of the 14th amendment in 1866, when this law was rendered moot. However, these discriminatory laws remained in the Oregon Constitution until 1926. Still, through the centuries, black individuals in Oregan suffered various forms of housing discrimination, among others, through racially restrictive covenants, discriminatory lending practices (redlining), urban renewal, and Zoning ordinances that barred black Americans from living in neighborhoods. The Mims family lived in Tent City due to housing discrimination, and Lane county considered the demolition of Ferry Street Village an Urban Renewal project. This situation begs the question: What happened to the other black individuals who did not come to own a home? Unfortunately, we do not have an answer.
Historically, travel around the States was dangerous and difficult for black Americans due to racial violence and discrimination. Famous performers like Patti LaBelle recall their experience of touring the United States and being forced to sleep in their cars. Some white towns were more hostile than others leaving black individuals vulnerable to hate crimes. The Traveler’s Green Book was a travel guide born out of necessity. It listed black-friendly businesses, hostels, saloons, etc., or resources that a traveler might require. Though the Mims house never appeared in the book, black travelers were still vulnerable to discrimination in Eugene. Thus, the Mims family hosted Athletes, Musicians, and other black American travelers who were denied lodging at all-white establishments. It served as a haven from 1948 – to 1966. Some notable guests were Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong.