Growing Gardens is a non-profit organization in Portland that literally plants the seeds for good food and healthy people. Everyone has the right to nourishing food, and Growing Gardens makes sure that low-income communities have access to the gardening skills and resources to grow their own food. This experience of growing food in schools, backyards and correctional facilities helps cultivate healthy, equitable communities through Oregon.
This year, Growing Gardens is celebrating its 25 year anniversary! To build an inclusive and vibrant food system, we must support local BIPOC and women-led food systems 365 days a year. To support that mission, Growing Gardens Chef In Your Garden dinner (previously Chef In My Garden) series now runs all year long. The dinner series not only highlights some of the best chefs in town, it also fosters partnerships with local farmers.
I was invited by Growing Gardens to this farm tour. As always, all opinions are my own.
Growing Gardens Farm Tour
We talk about eating local, but it’s rare to visit the farms, see firsthand where our food is grown, and listen to the farmers speak about their work. Thank you to Growing Gardens for this special opportunity to tour Happiness Family Farm and Vibrant Valley Farm on Sauvie Island. Of course, in classic Portland fashion, it was a gray and rainy day.
Happiness Family Farm is a family owned and operated farm that specializes in growing and selling African crops to connect with the African community in the PNW. Originally from Burundi, Prosper and Rosata came to Portland from a refugee camp in Tanzania. In Africa, farming has always been a part of their life. Today, the family of eight sells African produce from Seattle and Salem through a number of farmer’s markets, Come Thru Market, and CSA boxes. Also, check out Japhety’s clothing line BProud, which celebrates individuality.
Run by a crew of 12 women, Vibrant Valley Farm grows vegetables, flowers, and natural dyes using a whole system approach to farming. Over the past 9 years, the farm has grown from less an acre to almost 8 acres. The pandemic forced the farm to pivot from more of a restaurant farm to a CSA farm. Owner Kara says the farm isn’t just about food access and allowing the women to make a living — Vibrant Valley’s team is committed to using its power and privilege as a crew of predominantly white women to be a voice against all injustices.
We wrapped up the Growing Gardens Sauvie Island farm tour with a special lunch by Mama Dut Foods. Each lunchbox included steamed eggplant with garlic confit served with sticky rice, kale kimchi, and roasted spicy mushroom sauce. I loved every fiery bite, but the mushrooms were especially heavenly. The jasmine shortbread cookies and passion fruit lavender limeade were a lovely way to end the meal.
Note: This post is in collaboration with Growing Gardens. I received an invite to this Sauvie Island farm tour. This was not in exchange for a positive review and all opinions expressed here are my own.