Growing Gardens is a non-profit organization in Portland that uses the experience of growing food in schools, backyards, and correctional facilities to cultivate healthy and equitable communities. Their vision is for everyone to have equal access to healthy food and share resources within their own communities.
This year, Growing Gardens Chef In Your Garden dinner series returned with in-person events uniting chefs, beverage makers, and farmers, while raising funds to help support local food leaders and equity work within our food systems. I had the opportunity to attend the Akadi & Mama Dut vegan dinner at the Growing Gardens office in Southeast Portland and the non-profit’s 20th anniversary celebration at the Breathe Building featuring Mama Dut, Erica’s Soul Food, Ippai, Rangoon Bistro, HeyDay, and Selena’s Custom Kitchen.
In addition to the dinner series, I’ve followed Growing Gardens’ ongoing seasonal farm tour series highlighting local farmers and building equitable relationships within our food systems and communities. Previous farm tours were at Happiness Family Farm, Vibrant Valley Farm, Mora Mora Farm, Good Rain Farm, and Mariquita Medicinals. This time, we visited Wild Roots Farm in Troutdale.
Growing Gardens Farm Tour
Wild Roots Farm in Troutdale
Owned and operated by Mary Colombo and Brian Shipman, Wild Roots Farm started in 2015 at Headwaters farm incubator in Gresham — the farm startup program that Mora Mora Farm and Good Rain Farm are a part of. After graduating from the program in 2019, Wild Roots moved to its current Troutdale lot, where it now grows over 200+ varieties of vegetables and herbs to supply local restaurants like Cafe Olli and markets like Wellspent Market and Montavilla Farmers Market.
Like many farms, Wild Roots struggled when the pandemic hit as it predominantly supplied to restaurants. Now, the farm has diversified to supplying to restaurants, markets, and a CSA program. Additionally, Wild Roots has worked with Growing Gardens since 2020 to help address the issue of food access and get healthy food out to our community. Their collective work is centered around nourishment, trust, respect, and security.
Cafe Olli prepared a special lunch for us using vegetables from the farm, including Wild Roots specialty: radicchio. I love a messy sandwich packed with veggies, and Cafe Olli’s bread is always a knockout. Sparkling hop beverages were provided by Aurora Elixirs.
I was invited by Growing Gardens to this farm tour. As always, all opinions are my own.