Category: Giving Back (5)

Mission: Growing Gardens uses the experience of growing food in schools, backyards and correctional facilities to cultivate healthy, equitable, communities.

Growing Garden’s programs are guided by their values, which we wholeheartedly share:

  • All people have a right to healthy, culturally appropriate food;
  • Individuals and communities are strongest when they have the knowledge and skills to provide food for themselves and their communities;
  • The need for healthy food is universal and must be adapted to the special needs of diverse populations;
  • Learning and applying gardening skills adds financial benefits to individuals and communities;
  • Respecting our environment, and promoting the interconnectedness of all things, improves the quality of life for everyone.


Our team originally learned about Growing Gardens through our love of good food. Every summer the nonprofit creates a series of special dinners crafted by Portland’s top chefs, with outstanding Oregon wineries and served in stunning private gardens. The Chef in My Garden events offer a chance to enjoy our beautiful and bountiful Oregon summer while benefiting an amazing organization.

Earth Day 2017 = Spring Dig-In

In April our team joined forces with Growing Gardens to help build garden boxes in the Portsmouth neighborhood. A few shovels, rakes, bails of straw, bags of compost, soil amendments, muscles and green-themed costumes helped to build four organic garden beds in under two hours. Now this amazing family in the NoPo community can grow healthy fruits and vegetables for years to come!


We were able to connect with the head of fundraising and events, Jason Skipton to learn a little more about this amazing organization:



With over 50 Farmers Markets in the Portland metro area you can find fresh, locally grown food every day of the week, all year-round. Most of these markets were started by neighbors and continue to function on the energy and support of community volunteers. These markets are also committed to helping needy families, providing education and caring for the environment. Below is a short list of the markets we frequent and what we love most about them.




Located on the beautiful tree lined park blocks of the Portland State University campus, the PSU Farmers Market is a destination for tourists and locals. With over 200 vendors and 20,000 visitors a day during the summer months, you are sure to find everything you are looking for. This market proudly reduces waste through their Durable Dining program and helps low income families gain access to healthy food by accepting SNAP benefits. Broker Jessica lives closest to this market. She likes to get to there early, grab breakfast at Verde Cocina and watch the local musicians perform. Then she stocks up on her favorite organic produce, fresh flowers, sauerkraut and brine from Olykraut. For more information on the PSU Farmers Market click here.

Hours: Open Saturdays year-round: 9am-2pm
Location: Park Blocks between SW College & Montgomery Streets


St Johns

The St Johns neighborhood is located in North Portland on the tip of a peninsula formed by the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Once its own city it decided to merge with Portland in 1915. The community is strongly rooted in food equity and those values are reflected through their local market. They are committed to giving back to the neighborhood through nutrition education and their Double Up & Veggie Voucher programs. Broker Renee lives closest to this market. She enjoys getting lunch at Urban German and listening to the live music before shopping for her bounty of fresh fruit and veggies for the upcoming week. For more information on the St Johns Farmers Market click here.

Hours: Open Saturdays: May 20th-October 28th, 9am-2pm
Location: St. Johns Plaza at the intersection of N. Lombard and N. Philadelphia Avenues





This year-round market in the Hollywood neighborhood hosts over 50 vendors including farmers, prepared foods, community booths and musicians. The market is committed to providing healthy food access to low income families and seniors through their Double Up Food Bucks, WIC & Senior Coupon programs. Broker Darcie lives closest to this market. She likes to pickup fresh cut flowers from Old House Dahlias, taste the selection of cured meats at Olympia Provisions and sit down with a bowl of ramen from Umi Organic. For more information on the Hollywood Farmers Market click here.

Hours: Open every Saturday: April-November, 8am-1pm & 1st & 3rd Saturdays: December-March, 9am-1pm
Location: NE Hancock, between 44th & 45th Avenues



The Montavilla neighborhood started as a rural farming community over 100 years ago. Present day the neighborhood has transformed into a destination for young families seeking affordable housing and businesses looking for a mix of affordable commercial space and a vibrant central business district. The Montavilla Farmers Market is located right in the heart of Montavilla on the Stark Street strip. It includes 17 local vendors, live music and proudly reduces waste through their Durable Dish & Loaner Bag programs. They also help provide healthy food access to low income families through a program called Everybody Eats. Broker Hilary lives closest to this market. One of her favorite vendors is Fiddlehead Farms, a multi-generational organic farm that grows 100 different vegetables. For more information on the Montavilla Farmers Market click here.

Hours: Open Sundays: May-November, 10am-2pm
Location: 7700 block of SE Stark Street



The Beaverton market first opened in 1988 and since then has grown to host nearly 130 vendors and attracts 20,000 visitors a day during the summer months. Located near the Beaverton Library and City Park in the heart of downtown Beaverton, it is a destination for families looking for fresh local produce, artisan food and live entertainment. Broker Lindsay lives closest to this market. She enjoys eating lunch at Smokin’ Rose BBQ, getting strawberries from Unger Farms and tasting fresh goat cheese at Portland Creamery. For more information on the Beaverton Farmers Market click here.

Hours: Open Saturdays: February-April, 10am-1:30pm, May-September, 8am-1:30pm & October-November, 9am-1:30pm

Location: SW Hall Blvd, between 3rd & 5th Streets



This market started in 1999 with 7 vendors and has grown to over 75! Located right in the heart of downtown Milwaukie the market offers a diverse shopping experience by providing the usual farm fresh fare, along with pottery, jewelry, sweets, soaps and flowers. With quick access to restaurants, parks and the Springwater Corridor it is easy to make a day of it. Broker Sarah lives closest to this market. Some of her favorite vendors are Kiyokawa Family Orchards for delicious apples and pears and Henry Higgins Bagels, one of the areas best bagel shops. For more information on the Milwaukie Farmers Market click here.

Hours: Open Sundays: May-October, 9:30am-2pm
Location: Corner SE Main & Harrison Streets

Theatre With a Conscience

New on the nonprofit scene, this local theatre troupe creates, rehearses and performs community-based dramatic presentations with a timely focus on issues of social justice. Each main stage production highlights another local nonprofit with all net proceeds dedicated to issues such as hunger, homelessness, racism, discrimination, and human trafficking.

An Interview with Dan Jamison, Board Chair

How did you become involved with VFV? I saw a children’s theatre performance called “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” performed before a packed house at a neighborhood church. What I soon learned was the play was produced in order to benefit  a local nonprofit. I visited with the Director, Molly Stuckey, and learned that she wanted to form a performing arts group that would operate on this type of a model. We immediately went to work, formed a 501c3, recruited a Board of Directors….and here we are one year later!
Who is your typical client or person who benefits from your services?  We specifically sponsor and produce plays that are of local interest that can be matched with successful local nonprofits that serve many clients throughout the region. For example, “Elf Junior” is the story of an orphan, so we have selected Love Inc and Safe Families to benefit from this effort. Our next main stage play which will be produced in March, 2017, is “Twelve Angry Jurors”. This effort, which is about a contentious jury trial, will benefit the Partnership for Safety and Justice.

Star of VFV’s first production, The Phantom Tollbooth, Kadence Hancock shows off her costume.

How many shows are you hoping to do each year? We currently plan to produce four per year, two youth theatre productions, and two adult main stage productions.
Who is your typical donor? We have received donations from both individuals and businesses. Our appeal to individual donors is unique: they are giving to a successful performing arts group, with the added bonus of “paying it forward” by knowing the proceeds from the play then go to a worthy organization that is doing meaningful work in our area.
How do you choose the nonprofit organizations that you support? We are relatively new at this, but opportunities continue to emerge! For example, as we were considering “Twelve Angry Jurors”, the Malheur Occupation trial was unfolding, with a keen interest both locally and nationally. This helped cement our selection of the play. Matching the play to a worthy organization is a bit of homework and being open to ideas. A respected former colleague of mine who worked in Washington DC recently moved to Portland. Iris shared about her role as a Board member for Partnership for Safety and Justice. As we learned more about the great work they are doing to strengthen and reform the criminal justice system, our Board thought this would be a perfect match.
What is your most underfunded service? Our most underfunded service and our biggest challenge as a new nonprofit is marketing our productions. Everyone we have visited with loves our unique model of producing plays about social justice issues, and then “paying it forward”. We tend to believe our greatest immediate need is simply getting the word out through social media, conventional media, and advertising, and word of mouth. Some of this effort requires resources to advertise and promote.
If someone was interested in volunteering, what services might they be able to help provide? We love volunteers! There are opportunities for set construction, costume creation, media messaging, photography, graphic design, or even if you simply love attending plays…ushering at our events. As a relatively new organization, we are still uncovering and identifying our needs. Also, space is a premium. One of our biggest challenges is having space for our actors and actresses to rehearse. Every dollar saved in free or reduced rental space is an additional dollar that goes to the selected partner nonprofit.
Is there anything else we should know about this awesome organization? Our Board had a discussion early on and shared that “New nonprofits are often held together by duct tape and love!” Looking back at the last year, we would say this is true.  Yet we also have a growing sense of momentum and success. We are amazed that others are beginning to step up and become more engaged, and we are thankful for a small but growing number of community-minded folks who are giving financially. These are exciting times for us.

Celebrate the Holidays with Elf Jr.

Join the Young Voices this December as they bring to life “Elf Jr.” a musical based on the cherished New Line Cinema hit, Elf.

This play tells the story of Buddy, a young orphan who mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised, unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list and that his half-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Holiday fun for the whole family and a wonderful opportunity to support the community. Get your tickets here before they’re gone!