Bridging markets and communities

We are excited to announce that New Columbia Farmers Market (Village Gardens) and St Johns Farmers Market (St. Johns Center for Opportunity) are partnering up for the 2017 farmers market season. The partnership will strengthen efforts of both markets to support local farmers and hot food vendors, provide a space for weekly celebration, support accessibility to fresh and local produce, and meet the needs of our vibrant North Portland community. We are co-hiring a Farmers Market Coordinator to be the lead on both markets for the 2017 season and to build the bridge for our farmers, vendors and communities to grow together.  We think it is a great opportunity for New Columbia Farmers Market to work with emerging vendors and prepare them for a mid-sized market like St. Johns Farmers Market.  Check out our employment page for more info.

Make your veggie commitment

By purchasing a portion of the season’s harvest, CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members develop a partnership with our farm, the youth employed at Food Works and the Village Gardens' community. All funds from our CSA go back into the program to help employ youth from North Portland and to operate our 2.5 acre certified organic farm on Sauvie Island.

What can you expect from your share?

  • A weekly pick up of a diverse assortment of at least 8 types of vegetables for a total of 23 weeks.
  • It’s a great size for a family or a couple hungry adults.
  • The weekly Food Works newsletter keeps you up to date on what’s in season, our favorite recipes, youth writings, and Food Works program updates.

How much does it cost?

A full Food Works CSA share costs $600. You can choose payment in full or two installments. We have a limited number of shares available to SNAP participants for $400, thanks to the Double Up Food Bucks Program. Get in touch to find out more. The cost of your CSA goes directly towards supporting youth employment.

Sign up early to get your share reserved!

A Partnership for Health

As the soil at Food Works farm is getting tilled, as the cover crop is being planted, and while the van is continually getting stuck in the mud due to the fall rains, we at Food Works are reflecting back on the successes, learning moments, and beauty that defined this past season on the farm. We had two successful farmers market booths, an account at the University Park New Seasons, and the biggest, longest CSA we’ve ever had.

An exciting addition to our CSA this year was our participation in CSA Partnerships for Health, a CSA prescription program that provides affordable vegetables and fruit to folks in the community. For those that don't know, CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture," which means a farm takes a certain number of members for the whole season and provides them with a full box of produce each week at a fixed price. We are at the beginning of a multi-year partnership that includes Zenger Farm, Adelante Mujeres, OFB Community Farm, Portland Fruit Tree Project, Rose CDC, OHSU Family Medicine at Richmond, Multnomah County Health Centers and Portland State University. For this particular program, Food Works provided organic vegetables to 11 CSA members who are patients at North Portland Health Center and whose wellness plan include healthy eating and cooking with fresh whole foods. This is easier said than done when your food budget is limited, so the partnership covered the marjority of the cost of each share and SNAP benefits covered the remaining, making locally grown, organic, fresh produce truly accesible.

Each week we would bring that week’s produce to the clinic and set it up farmers market style with the colorful produce billowing out of baskets for each person to pick from. This gave them an opportunity to have agency in their food choices and to ask and learn about each thing. It was so inspiring to see folks mystified and unsure about something like celeriac one week, then come back the next with their mouthwatering descriptions of the amazing soup they had made with it. We also partnered with Village Gardens’ Community Kitchen program so that almost each week there was a cooking demo with samples for an easy, nutritious recipe that uses the produce in that week’s  CSA share along with a recipe written out for folks to take. This created a weekly community gathering time where the patients, healthcare providers, and staff and youth from Village Gardens all had a chance to hang out outside, eat together, and connect about recipes, preferences, and experiences. We had a chance to ask the members about this experience and this is what they shared “[My favorite thing about the CSA was] learning about vegetables that I’ve never seen before. My favorite was the fresh big green beans. They’re so different from the grocery store. I really learned the difference between fresh and store bought vegetables- it’s astronomical.” Another listed the health benefits he’s experienced this past season, “[The positive effects of the CSA were] that I’m off my diabetes meds, my hemoglobin levels are where we want them. My mental health is better with the pre and probiotics I’m getting from the vegetables and supplements and I’m having less anxiety and depression. I’m more physically active and have higher energy levels!”

A big thanks to the generous funders of this revolutionary program; USDA-NIFA Community Food Project, Kaiser Permanente HEAL, Knight Cancer Institute, and Oregon Department of Agriculture Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. And to Bob’s Red Mill for donating a dry bulk item to each weekly share. Food Works is already doing farm planning to do this again next year, we look forward to it.

In memory of a friend

As a community and a family we say farewell to Barbara Angel, an active leader and passionate community member of Village Gardens who passed away last month.

In addition to her position as a Community Health Worker, over the years Barbara volunteered much of her time at the Seeds of Harmony community garden. Barbara was involved in every aspect of planning and organizing the Seeds of Harmony garden when it first began 12 years ago. As a graduate of the Oregon State University (OSU) Master Gardener Program, shecontributed so much knowledge and skill to the garden and to her neighbors. About seven years ago, Barbara had the great idea to start a Peace Garden in the community garden. She thought a peace garden would fit perfectly with the goals of Seeds of Harmony, in which community members strive for “things to run harmoniously,” using conflict resolution to ensure that "everyone feels safe in the garden.” With the help of fellow community members during a work party, a 20 by 50 foot area was dug up and cleared for the Peace Garden. Barbara wanted this to be a safe space for people “to come and sit for some peace of mind; a place to be quiet, to hear the birds, to listen to the leaves of the cheery trees blowing in the wind.”

Many diverse plants, flowers, and medicinal herbs grow in the Peace Garden- all planted intentionally to create a tranquil environment. Goldenrod, a tall wild flower that can grow up to five feet tall, lines the perimeter of the garden to keep the space more secluded. Fragrant lavender and colorful succulents are found throughout the garden, as well as alyssum, bamboo, and strawberry  bushes. The herb beds grow low to the ground with mint, echinacea, lemon balm, chamomile, yarrow, and St. John’s wort. Barbara, a huge tea enthusiast, made her own tea using the mint and lemon balm that grew in the garden. In one corner of the garden is a patchwork of small pebbles, which Barbara called “soft rocks.” She said this was designed to provide a space for people to do yoga in the garden. In the middle of the Peace Garden is a stone bird bath, and on either end are wooden benches. Barbara said she found it “really calming to come and sit on the benches.” This calming energy in the garden inspired Barbara to teach her meditation classes here. Barbara’s vision of the Peace Garden has become a reality. The Peace Garden remains a space of reflection, solitude and memories.

Village Gardens is hiring!

We are hiring for a couple of awesome positions;

Food and Nutrition Coordinator (closes October 9th)
The Food and Nutrition Coordinator works to promote healthy eating at the Village Market through the production of healthy prepared foods items and coordination of nutrition and health education programing. The Food and Nutrition Coordinator position will work as a community organizer to coordinate cooperative efforts with customers and New Columbia residents to promote the food and nutrition needs of their community.

See more

Shift Lead at Village Market (Open until filled)
The Shift Lead position leads efforts to ensure Village Market customers have an exceptional experience by making sure they are treated to excellent customer service in a store that is clean and well stocked. The Shift Lead position focuses on setting the pace and tone for the day by role modeling positive energetic leadership, supporting and coaching Grocery Clerks to complete daily operations tasks, and leading the open, operation, and close of the Village Market store. This Shift Lead position will perform the full range of duties at the Village Market including: excellent customer service; accurate cash handling; efficient inventory maintenance; safe food preparation; and maintain a clean, organized and positive work environment. The Shift Lead is also expected to provide basic training and supervision of volunteers and interns in the store.

See more

Happiness Family Farm - our story

I have been a Market Gardener for 4 years, a refugee from Burundi, Africa, and have a family of 8. I lived in the refugee camp in Tanzania for 12 years without hope of life for all my generations. My family and I arrived in the USA in 2007, the land of opportunities. We lived in Beaverton, OR for two years, and moved to New Columbia in December 2009.

In April 2010, I met Wasongolo, Community Organizer at Village Gardens who also is a refugee, he asked me if I can join the Seeds of Harmony garden in New Columbia. Remembering the job I have done 16 years ago in my country of origin, I agreed to become a gardener to get fresh, and organic vegetables for my family. From there on, I started producing tomatoes and vegetables for my family from my small 12X12 foot garden. And I do remember with other gardeners we started requesting more land to produce more food, and gain an income. We started discussing the possibility to get more land.

We got our first land donated by the Martin family on Sauvie Island in 2013. For our first year, my family decreased our food expenses by 10%. For the second year 15%, third 17%, and the consumption of vegetables were increased gradually for the same amount, and income increased too. We are encouraging other refugees, and community around us to eat vegetables.

At our first Village Gardens Farmers Market, we started teaching other people in our community to eat african cultural vegetables, (amaranth, squash leaves, bean leaves, african eggplant, and other african veggies). My family does believe eating vegetables is protecting yourself against some illnesses. We are enjoying being a Village Gardens Family, we share food sometimes at pot-lucks, at our garden celebration and donate vegetables to others.

In addition, my family is getting more benefit, through Village Gardens' connection we are working with MESO, (Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon), which seeks to broaden economic opportunities for the under-served entrepreneurs. With them we started a program called IDA, a matching program. In working with them, we have found a name for our small farm, Happiness Family Farm, in memory of our daughter born in the USA named Happiness.

Also two of my children work with Food Works, a Village Gardens program for youth development. We are lucky to be in the Village Gardens Family, we do hold in high regard all the support given to us to increase health, and income and new opportunities are much appreciated. We can say, supporting Village Gardens in whatever it is doing is supporting the increase of growth in health,  income, assets, and business skills for the families in New Columbia.

Kind regards,
Prosper & Rosata

Good Food days at Village Market

We are so excited for Village Market's Good Food program. We are issuing a new round of Good Food cards and signing up folks with SNAP for awesome healthy food discounts in the store. Village Market has everything you are looking for and making healthy choices makes your money go even further. Come in for 30% off veggies, fruit, bulk grains, bulk beans, dairy, eggs, healthy fats and many more healthy pantry items.

See you at the New Columbia Farmers Market

Join us for opening day on June 9th!! See you every Thursday this summer from 4-7pm for the New Columbia Farmers Market!  We have prioritized growers, emerging small business owners and artists from New Columbia & North Portland. With growers from the community selling African eggplant beside vendors serving up sambusas, our market is a gathering space for diverse neighbors to connect over foods from home. Each week we will have music, great vendors and food demos. See you there!

Please welcome the 2016 New Columbia
Farmers Market vendors:

Food Works Farm
Village Gardens Market Gardeners
Happiness Family Farm
Seeds of Harmony Garden

Amoula’s Morrocan Cuisine – hot Morrocan food
Alle Amin – hot Somali food

Azteca – fruit cocktails and crafts
Chaz Homemade – cookies and milk

Lexi Johnny Hair Sculpting – natural hair oils
Alyna Couture – beaded & stone jewelry
Montgomery – jewelry
Shaquala’s nails – manicures
Misty’s Pearlers – keychains

Food Works Summer Crew!

The Food Works Summer Crew is a  volunteer leadership program. The Summer Crew is made up of 2 teams of 10 youth 14 to 18 yrs old. Summer Crew Members build leadership skills by working in the community, at the Food Works Farm, and volunteering at Sisters Of The Road.

Participants can earn school credit for community service and work experience at most Portland schools. Summer Crew Members also receive a nominal $300 stipend upon the successfulcompletion of each month of the program ($150 every 2 weeks), a monthly youth Trimet bus pass and great learning experiences!!!. Also, after completing Summer Crew you will be eligible for our Academic Year and Market Crew!

Help us spread the word. Applications are due June 21st!

Food Works Summer Crew applications are available here.

Spring Celebration and Fundraiser

Join us for a lovely evening on April 20th to celebrate and support Village Gardens. We have fun and games planned, a silent and live auction, a delicious dinner and we will be honoring community members for their participation and commitment. Purchase a ticket or sponsor a table today! 
See you at the Melody Ballroom (615 SE Alder).Door open at 5:30, dinner begins at 7:00.

A huge thank you to our event sponsors:
Portland Nursery
University of Portland – School of Nursing

Celebrate with us!

Join us for an evening that celebrates Village Gardens.
Purchase a ticket for you and a friend or sponsor a table.

Make your plans to join us on April 20th at the Melody Ballroom. Doors open at 5:30 pm. We have fun activities, great food and inspiring company. Help us thank the recipient of this year’s Community Leadership Award and see all the innovative projects that have been happening since you last dropped by.