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A Food Works timeline

2001 - 2003     The St John’s Woods garden project was started by community members, organizing together to see change in their community. Youth in the Woods were hired to help out in the community gardens and decided that they wanted to start selling vegetables. The youth research different options and found that selling salad mix would be the best way to maximize their sales. Youth asked the gardeners to use 700 square feet of the Big Garden at St Johns Woods for their business. On Saturday mornings they harvested (sometimes with flash lights) the salad mix, washed and dried it off (in mesh bags spinning over their heads) and bagged it. They than sold the mix at the Portland Farmers Market

2004                The business model worked and the youth started to dream bigger…“what if we had a farm?”. The youth worked with Village Gardens staff to figure out all of the things that needed to happen in order to start a farm.

2005                Village Gardens received a USDA grant to grow Food Works!! Along with this funding, many strong partnerships came on board including Sauvie Island Organics, New Seasons Market, Portland Farmers Market, Portland Nursery, and Metro who donated the land at Howell Territorial Park on Sauvie Island.

2006                This marked Food Works first year at the Farm on Sauvie Island. The farm was ½ an acre and the youth made $5,000 at the farmer’s market and selling to New Seasons Market. Sauvie Island Organics allowed Food Works to use tools and equipment for taking care of the farm. The youth also used Sauvie Island Organics’ wash barn and would continue to do so for the next 4 years. During this season, there was no shed and no shade. Our van was the only place to get out of the sun!

2007                Our second Year on the Farm on Sauvie Island. The youth added 15 beds to the land, and we built the first shed for shade and storage. The Youth built a Green House and trenched for irrigation and electrical. Food works also became a certified organic farm with Oregon Tilth!

2008                Our third Year at the farm! We hooked up electricity in the Greenhouse and we had heat! We were able to grow so many more starts this year.

2009                Food Works grew and welcomed our first year Summer Crew. We hired 10 new youth as Summer Crew, with Ahoefa (Summer Program intern) and Boru (Farm intern) as our first summer interns. In the fall the youth decided to break ground on new land and expand the farm by 10 beds. Youth also partnered with a livestock committee to plan for chickens at the Food Works farm. This is the summer we also started to plan and cook meals to share on the farm.

2010                This was the first year that Food Works went year-round with the Academic Year Program (AYP). Youth were first hired into the 8-week summer crew, then were able to apply for AYP during school year, and eventually into a leadership position as Market Crew.The Summer Program expanded to 2 crews with a total of 20 participants. Abu (Livestock and Garden Education intern) and Ahoefa (Summer Program intern) were summer interns. Food Works purchased a cultivating tractor. All the youth helped to plan meals and prepared community lunches.

2011                 We expanded the farm by 1 more acre. We hosted 5 youth interns in the summer (2 Farmers Market interns – Lavette and Dae Dae , 1 CSA manager and garden education intern – Destiny, 2 Summer Program interns – Markishia and Prudence). Sabrina and Dae Dae designed the Veggies on the Street project and wrote the grant that made it possible. The project began with nutrition and cooking demonstrations hosted on the sidewalks in  New Columbia.

2012             A partnership with Sisters of the Road developed with the support of New Seasons Market. Food Works provided a wholesale CSA share for the kitchen at Sisters, volunteered in the Cafe and hosted Sisters customers for work days and meals at the farm.

2013-2014 Youth first worked at Village Market and managed the produce section for the market. This was the summer where we partnered with Community Cycling Center to bring three tricycles to the farm. We used them to haul produce, host bike trick competitions and relay races!

2015            We added roofs over our outdoor kitchen and wash station. We hired additional year round staff to support the Academic Year Program. Youth presented at the Closing the Hunger Gap conference.

2016            Our first year of a CSA Partnerships for Health. We provide 10 CSA shares for clients at the North Portland Health Center in a city-wide partnership supported by Zenger Farm. The Youth Community Advisory Board was developed in partnership with Home Forward and Urban League. Youth attended the Rooted in Community gathering in Olympia, WA. This was the first year we had a youth Farm Manager, it was Riziki.

2017                We expanded the farm by 1/8 acre for perennials. This was the first year we had strawberries & chives! Youth attended the Rooted in Community youth gathering in North Carolina.

2018                Food Works youth grew food in the Seeds of Harmony Community garden at New Columbia. Youth also began to work regularly at Village Market and gained customer service and retail skills.

2019                10 Academic Year Program youth planned the growing season. Youth also hosted a bake sale at the Village Market Block Party Celebration. Through the summer, Lupita, Ev and Sophia cared for a 1/3 acre at Sauvie Island. We sold produce at Village Market and New Seasons Market. We were able to share one acre of farm land with Happiness Family Farms.