Growing Gardens

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:

How did you become involved with Growing Gardens?
When I worked with Village Gardens, I partnered with Growing Gardens staff. I have been in this field of community food security work for the past 15 years. I started at PSU with a degree in Community Development. I then entered into the Peace Corps and was an agriculture volunteer in Northern Nicaragua. After 5 years working and living in Central America I came back to Portland and worked with Village Gardens for 5 and a half years working in community leadership through agriculture. I then went to OSU and received my Master’s in Public Health, where I did my research in La Paz, Bolivia, focusing on the positive impacts of community gardens on food security and community participation. I came back and then applied for the Executive Director position here with Growing Gardens.
Who is your typical client or person who benefits from your services?
We work with a wide range of communities. Our Home Gardens program works with low-income families throughout the Portland Metro area. Over half of our 300 families are native Spanish speakers. In our Youth Grow program, we work and partner with 9 Title 1 schools to provide interactive, hands-on garden-based education with the goal of connecting STEM and science in an outdoor classroom setting. In our Lettuce Grow program, we work with incarcerated adults and youth across the state of Oregon in 16 different correctional facilities. We provide 9 months of garden education and hands-on learning opportunities. In addition, we support and work with thousands of volunteers to help further our mission and work.
Who is your typical donor?
We have a wide range of donors, from our Perennial Donors, who are monthly contributors, individuals who come to our summer dinner series, Chef in My Garden, to local foundations who provide grant and project based funding.
What are your most utilized services?
We have a robust group of dedicated volunteers across our programs and events. From helping to install home gardens, to weekly volunteers giving garden classes in correctional facilities.
What is your most underfunded service?
Currently, our Lettuce Grow program is the most underfunded. We have a great partnership with the Oregon Department of Corrections, but there is little money in the Department of Corrections. So we rely heavily on donors to help with this essential program to provide positive education programs and hands on experiences for hundreds of Oregon inmates each year.
If someone was interested in volunteering what services might they be able to help provide and who should they contact?
There are lots of ways to volunteer with Growing Gardens,
Want to have a Spring Dig In or Dawn of the Bed garden build team?? A fun way to engage with coworkers, friends and family? Emily Keeler is the contact: emily@nullgrowing-gardens.org
Want to volunteer to be a school garden assistant with one of our amazing Garden Educators? Anna Garwood is the contact: anna@nullgrowing-gardens.org
If we are interested in working with incarcerated adults or youth, by supporting educational opportunities here in Oregon, Rima Green is the contact: rima@nullgrowing-gardens.org
For other volunteer interests, to volunteer at our Chef in My Garden dinners, general office support, seed sorting and other fun opportunities, Tracey Harper is the contact: tracey@nullgrowing-gardens.org

 

We are excited to help Growing Gardens continue to expand their reach in helping people connect with tilth, the power of nurturing, their community and the Earth.