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A major goal for PCRI’s Healthy Food Access initiative is to enable any resident who wants to garden, to garden. Since many residents live in multifamily units without the space to garden for themselves, we were able to hook up with the local (and amazing) Albina Cooperative Garden to give some residents a chance to garden right away.
James and Tim are spearheading the Albina Cooperative Garden and both also work at other urban farming projects around Portland. Their goal is not to have you work for the garden, but for the garden to work for you. That said, they have made it as easy as possible to get in, get dirty and get fed.
The Albina Cooperative Garden uses a different model than most community gardens: everyone works towards the same goal and shares the same produce. There are no specific “plots;” rather, when someone volunteers to help, they simply do what needs to be done, be it weeding, watering, or harvesting, and when it IS time to harvest, well, everyone gets a box full of the same fresh goods.
Some of the produce will be sold to local restaurants in order to sustain the garden and keep it free for members (but don’t worry– there will be more than enough for everyone). Experienced gardeners will be available to provide a built in support network for those less experienced. Plus, all the necessary tools will be provided, including an on-site wash station to clean fresh veggies and even a picnic table so the space can be used for community gatherings as well.
Ultimately, the garden aims to educate and empower its gardeners, giving them the tools and knowledge necessary to inform others and maybe begin a home garden. Interested in volunteering two or so hours per week in exchange for free produce? The garden will be ‘staffed’ every Saturday from 11-4 (approximately), and sign up is simple: if you’re interested, just show up.
Albina Cooperative Garden is located about 200 feet west of N. Vancouver on N. Russell St., adjacent to the Emanuel Hospital property. Someone is there most of the time, but definitely every Saturday from 11-4.
March is National Nutrition Month! Coincidentally, our Teens Engaged in Eating Nutritious Snacks team shared some great news this week about their project. The PCRI youth involved in the project (pictured with Governor Kitzhaber showing off the award check they received to help develop the snack) are planning to meet in the coming week with Kamelah Adams, a local chef who is developing a new business. Ms. Adams and the TEENS team will taste test a sample batch of healthy snacks that Ms. Adams has recently created.
Ms. Adams, who is also a PCRI resident, developed the sample recipe based on the TEENS team’s conclusions about which foods and flavors that would be healthy and would most appeal to youth looking for a snack.
On March 8, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off National Nutrition Month with “What’s on My Plate?” day to raise public awareness of the importance of choosing nutritious foods. Dr. Robert Post, Deputy Director of USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, will be the featured speaker at a “Get Your Plate in Shape” event on March 14 hosted by the DC Metro Area Dietetic Association. For more information on National Nutrition Month news and events, visit the USDA blog.
This spring, PCRI youth won a grant for their “Teenagers Engaged in Eating Nutritious Snacks” (TEENS) plan to create a healthy snack for other youth. Since receiving the grant (follow the link above for more information about the award), the TEENS team has been working to pinpoint a successful product. Now, PCRI’s youth interns are seeking a baker or chef committed to innovating delicious and healthy fresh-baked goods to make the TEENS product a reality.
Over the past four months, the youth have achieved several milestones: surveyed more than 240 teens regarding a healthy snack and what a healthy snack would taste like; taste tested a large number of snacks to determine the best tasting snack available on the market (blind taste tests pictured at right); and completed research regarding ingredients in existing snacks and options for making those snacks healthier.
The TEENS team is now ready to develop a snack that is similar to the Clif Kid Z Bar but is healthier and perishable. We are looking for a baker who has the ability to take similar ingredients as those found in the Clif Z Bar and take the ideas that resulted from the research, taste testing and surveys and invent a bar the youth can sell to other youth via a pilot project.
PCRI is a community non-profit organization and has a small budget to help pay for supplies for this project. We need someone with the expertise to help develop a recipe for a bar, produce the bar for testing purposes, and, if the bar is received well by community teens, sell the bar to the teens at a wholesale price. The TEENS team in turn will package the bar and sell it to other teens as part of their healthy snack project. There will be several opportunities for public relations on this project.
Are you ready to get cooking on this project – or know someone who is? Please contact Julie, Youth Internship Coordinator, at 503-288-2923.
Residents of PCRI, NAYA and Hacienda CDC communities – please join us at our Food Day Event and Celebration, Monday, October 24th from 6:30-8pm! We will celebrate community food and food resources and will present the results of our Housing Organizations of Color Coalition’s Healthy Foods Access assessment and survey.
We are very concerned about the health inequities we see in our communities: Nearly 60% of households we surveyed have one or more persons in their household suffering from a preventable diet-related health condition. Ninety-eight percent of survey respondents indicated that access to affordable fresh fruit and vegetables in their neighborhood was important to them, so why do so few shop for fresh produce in their neighborhood? What are some of the important values to our communities regarding food and our food system? Find out the responses to these and more, including what potential strategies our assessment points toward for addressing some of our most pressing healthy food access challenges.
This promises to be a fun event and will include a cooking demonstration by a locally acclaimed chef. We will also be sharing locally prepared food and—thanks to donations by fabulous local sustainable farms—we will be sharing fresh seasonal produce with our residents and other participating low-income community members.
The organizations and farms that are contributing to and/or participating in this Food Day event include: PCRI, Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA), Hacienda CDC and it’s Micro Mercantes program, Bob’s Red Mill, The Side Yard Farm, Wealth Underground Farm, Friends of Zenger Farm, Gaining Ground Farm, Portland Fruit Tree Project, Groundwork Portland, and Fork In The Road Mobile Market.
Residents who are interested in joining are requested to RSVP to by email to Adriana Voss-Andreae or by calling (503) 288-2923. The event will be held at O.A.M.E., 4134 N Vancouver Avenue in Portland.
Nearly three years ago, George, a resident at PCRI’s Park Terrace apartments, delivered fresh greens to Resident Service Coordinator Amber Starks. They may not have known it at the time, but the greens from George’s garden would grow into an opportunity to engage residents throughout PCRI’s community.
Rewind to the winter of 2009-2010 when George delivered his green gift. Inspired by his beautiful, bountiful garden, Amber set out to create a space where all of the Park Terrace residents could grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs.
“I thought it would bring out residents who were interested in gardening, who may have had a garden in the past, or were looking to do something different,” Amber said.
The 2010 garden was a bit of a challenge, she admits. While a few residents expressed interest, poor soil in the new garden area and limited time to keep up with it meant weeds were about the only plants that prospered. Amber resolved that 2011 would have a significantly better outcome.
To attract help and involvement from the Park Terrace youth, Amber enlisted artist Dylan “Kauz” Freeman to create a mural. During the fall of 2010, Dylan and the youth brainstormed ideas, made sketches and painted a mural about what a garden meant to them. Their mural now overlooks the Park Terrace garden.
Park Terrace’s property management also joined in to make future gardens a success. Using concrete that had been removed elsewhere on the property, they created raised beds—one for general resident use and one especially for George, upgrading the space in which he had been gardening for years. The Park Terrace landscape maintenance crew added compost to improve the soil as well.
In the spring of 2011, volunteer Alison Coffinbarger applied her garden know-how in conjunction with starts and seeds generously donated by Portland Nursery. Alison provided hands-on instruction for the residents, sharing information about soil preparation, composting, companion planting and more. Every week, she would introduce the residents to two plants and offer tips on how to plant and care for them.
The instruction and extra effort paid off, especially with the cucumbers. Park Terrace’s garden was so flush with cukes, a few of the residents took the bounty door-to-door, offering up their harvest to the resident seniors. Other crops took a while longer (as with most Portland gardens this year, the tomatoes were late to ripen but are now offering their delicious fruit to residents’ kitchens). Still, every planting offered at least a taste for the resident gardeners.
Participation increased as residents saw the harvest in Park Terrace’s community center and got involved in planting and maintaining the garden. In addition, Amber is already planning the fall and winter garden with hardy crops like kale, collards and other greens. She’s also looking even further down the garden rows toward a “planting to plate” experience where residents will learn how to garden and then learn from a chef how to cook what they grow in a variety of ways.
“My goal is also to empower residents to learn about the food they eat, how it grows and where it comes from and lastly how eating healthy can really improve quality of life,” she says. “It is also good to know that residents will have the skills to be able to garden wherever they go.”
Residents interested in participating in a community garden and community members interested in volunteering or donating can contact Amber Starks, Resident Services Coordinator, or Adriana Voss-Andrae, Healthy Foods Access Program Manager.