Food Works, in gratitude


Dear Friends,

We want to thank you and all the Food Works youth, staff, interns, donors, funders, partners and advocates who have poured passion and hard work into this program for the past 18 years. We have seen a youth vision for food access, leadership development, and economic resilience evolve, thrive and now - shift. Over the past couple of years, our capacity to support Food Works at its fullest potential has diminished. We have worked creatively to scale back, and rethink the program and have come to realize that we need to close this chapter of our work. With deep appreciation and bittersweet reflection, we say goodbye to the Food Works program.

Food Works emerged 18 years ago as a small and visionary project nurtured along by the youth in North Portland’s St Johns Wood neighborhood. From growing salad mix in a community garden plot to planning and running a 2.5 acre farm on Sauvie Island, the heart of Food Works has always been the commitment and leadership of youth. Since 2001, over 200 youth have poured their hard work, laughter and straight talk into managing and curating this project. The youth have grown more than 134,000 pounds and sold over $150,000 of fresh organic produce over the past 18 years with supporters and customers across the city purchasing Food Works organic produce.

There have been generations of youth jumping in to grow vegetables and then stepping up into leadership roles to mentor their peers. So many incredible young people have joined us to play games, cook and share food, present at conferences, and host volunteers. We have had incredible staff, youth and interns build a social justice and a farm planning curriculum that has been the heart of the Academic Year Program. So many youth have had their first jobs as Summer Crew, gaining basic job skills while learning (and getting passionate about) where their food comes from. Through Food Works youth have gained tangible job and leadership skills,  built a sense of self, deepened their social justice framework, figured out what they are passionate about, and built community. Food Works has grown up and grown out in response to all the youth and adult support staff who have believed that we all benefit when youth thrive and are heard.

This summer was the final season of Food Works and we want to thank the leadership of Lupita, Ev and Sophia during this time of change and uncertainty. Building on a legacy of youth who selected the Sauvie Island farm site and have been leading the work there since 2006, 10 AYP youth planned and planted the farm and Lupita, Ev and Sophia cared for it over the summer season. We will wrap up the work of this season in early October and moving forward, Village Gardens Community Leaders and staff will be inviting new partners to determine the future of the farm. As we create this path forward we would love to hear from you. Donated by Metro, the Sauvie Island farm site is an incredible resource that we have been sharing with dedicated community farmers and partners. This season, Happiness Family Farms has been growing amazing produce on 1 acre of our Sauvie Island farm. We are excited to continue to partner with new growers on this site. The Food Works learning curriculum is an incredible resource that we will continue to lean on and share, please reach out if you have questions and ideas about how to engage with it.

Though we will work with youth each summer through the Summer Works program, we are not sure what that work will look like as the seasons pass. We do know that we are committed to growing opportunities for authentic and invested leadership for both youth and adult neighbors. We will keep you posted and hope you stay in touch.

Please reach out if you have any questions, ideas or stories to share. And again…a heart full of thanks for all the folks who have touched Food Works and impacted all of us.

With respect,

Kris Soebroto and the Village Gardens team

Save the Date - Village Market celebrates 8 years!


We are celebrating Village Market's 8th Birthday with a block party on May 4th! It is going to be a fun day of celebrating with all the folks who make our work possible - our market customers, our community and neighbors, our partners and friends. 

Come and enjoy food, a plant sale, face painting, lots of great raffle prizes and more surprises.
Mark your calendars and tell your friends! Everyone is welcome.

By shopping at Village Market and donating to Village Gardens, you make a difference to this neighborhood and community. And now it's time to celebrate together.

If you are interested in sponsorship or volunteering please get in touch!

Thank you for an amazing 2018!


Oh my having a moment to reflect on our past year, we take in a deep breath of gratitude for our community, volunteers, customers, staff and donors. In the midst of facing changes and challenges, we also dug in a little deeper to who we are and who our community wants us to be.

We scaled back, relied on each other and took time to vision for a strong 2019. We are so excited to show back up on our Sauvie Island farm next year, the gardens and orchard are resting now in preparation for a bountiful season, we have an amazing Advisory Committee who will continue to support and hold us accountable, and Village Market continues to put Good Food first.

Here are some highlights from 2018:

  • Neighborhood youth have snacked on 24,054 free apples, bananas and oranges from Village Market.

  • SNAP and WIC eligible customers at Village Market have gone home with $17,765 of free fresh produce from points earned through our Good Food program. 

  • Over 80 youth and adult gardeners grew  XXXXX pounds of vegetables and harvested XXX pounds of fruit to share with North Portland families.

  • 96 volunteers have provided 1,450 hours of care and love to support Village Gardens programs. 

  • A 6-month process to elevate a community vision for the future of Village Gardens is bringing us back to the Sauvie Island farm. To deeply care for the farm - youth leaders, adult gardeners and a farm partner will collaborate to grow food for North Portland neighbors. 

  • Along with 8 other potlucks, gatherings and community celebrations, we hosted Village Market's 7th birthday party and neighbors came out to celebrate and raise $7,500. 

We so appreciate everyone who had our backs this year and helped make this all happen.
We literally couldn't (and wouldn't) do it without you.

With appreciation,
all of us at Village Gardens

Winston cooks and tells

Thank you to all the Seeds of Harmony Community Leaders and Gardeners who have made this such a successful season. 

Winston, was one cook at our end of season potluck, who supported the garden all season long. He joined us along with lots of folks who came out to celebrate the collective effort that went into our beautiful garden.  So far, the community garden has produced over 3,154 lbs of fresh produce for families in New Columbia.

$50 for 50

We are excited to introduce you to Kelly - an amazing partner, Village Gardens Advisory Committee member and friend of Village Gardens. On her recent 50th birthday she decided to jump in for justice and set up a fundraiser that supports our work. Here are her thoughts.

When I was hired to open the University Park New Seasons Market as the Community Coordinator, Chenoa Philabaum, the Senior Community Relations Manager for New Seasons said Kris Soebroto, the Program Director at Village Gardens, was someone I HAD to meet. She was right! It was love at first sight. It was the beginning of a fruitful partnership (pun intended!).

Village Gardens is creating equity in an area traditionally underserved, known as a “food desert.” And that equity is not being bestowed upon the neighborhood, it is being created by those who call New Columbia home. It is truly creating community through food.

Kelly hosting at the New Columbia Farmers Market in 2017

Kelly hosting at the New Columbia Farmers Market in 2017

Kelly with Staff and Friends at the Village market birthday celebration

Kelly with Staff and Friends at the Village market birthday celebration

A community member once told a story about how she hardly ever left her apartment and never talked to anyone in the neighborhood until she started gardening at the Seeds of Harmony community garden. She choked back tears as she talked about how she looks forward to seeing her friends and fellow gardeners there. Many of the children come help her or just offer a supportive pat on her arm when she comes to the garden on her scooter to the raised beds that she tends with lots of love. And now she is helping to coordinate the garden.

I experienced first hand how well resources are utilized, a little bit of support grows into big results. A donation of seeds last year have grown into food sold at Village Market then purchased by those looking for fresh choices.

For my fiftieth birthday this year, I'm asking for donations to Village Market throughout August because “everyone has a right to live in safe and thriving neighborhoods with access to good food.” If 50 people are generous enough to give $50 in honor of my 50th birthday, it would raise $2,500 for this amazing work. And YES! Every donation is tax-deductible. I love the idea of using a personal celebration to bring resources to a worthy cause and social media makes it SO easy.

There is absolutely no reason for anyone, anywhere, to go hungry. The work of Village Gardens is a small piece of the larger infrastructure that gets food to those who need it. The seeds of solving a global problem have been planted right here in North Portland.

Please donate to my birthday campaign.

Village Market Celebrates 7 years!

We hope you will join us on May 5th to celebrate Village Market's birthday. Village Market has been at the heart of our neighborhood for 7 years and there is no better way to celebrate than to thank all of you, our customers and supporters.

Last year we welcomed 122,000 customers at the Market. Each customer transaction is a donation to support our right to choose Good Food for ourselves and our families. As a customer at our nonprofit grocery store, you are an essential part of our neighborhood committment to affordable, fresh and local food for all thank you!

Right now, our Good Food program provides $5 of free fruits and vegetables for every $20 spent using SNAP benefits. We have been seeing folks use their SNAP dollars in the Market during the first two weeks of the month and bank away the Good Food points that they earn to use later in the month. There isn't anything more awesome than a customer that walks out of the store with two bags of free fresh produce that they earned with Good Food points. 

Kids are continuing to come in for free fruit each day and we are expecting to pass our record of 16,500  apples, oranges and bananas that we gave out last year. This summer we will sell produce grown by adults and Food Works youth at the Seeds of Harmony community garden just two blocks away. The Market is where we go to see our neighbors and our friends. It continues to be the hub of our community.

For our birthday celebration, the Market will be open and we will have a block party in full swing. You can expect a delicious BBQ plate lunch, plant starts sale  (grown by our Seeds of Harmony community gardeners and donated by Portland Nursery, Tony's Garden Center, Food by Design and Livingscape), facepainting, free birthday cake provided by New Seasons Market, music, raffle prizes and the unveiling of our neighborhood photo story project. This is all made possible by the support of United Way of the Columbia Willamette, Portsmouth Neighborhood Association and University of Portland Moreau Center.  We also want to thank our special sponsors at CareOregon who are providing a $1-to-$1 match for up to $1000 in donations received before May 5th. We hope you will donate today and double your donation.

Register now for the Food Works CSA! **Update. The Food Works CSA is not available for the 2018 season.

Food Works CSA is not available for the 2018 season.

We grow 2 acres of organic greens for cooking and salad, roots like carrots, beets, and potatoes, hot weather veggie classics like tomatoes, eggplants and cucumbers, plus herbs, melons, and more!

By joining our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, you can support our farm, support our youth leadership programming, and enjoy fresh, organically-certified vegetables all summer long. 

My Culture


This summer, Eva joined the Food Works community as one of 10 new Summer Program youth hired by a peer hiring committee. After a successful summer, Eva was hired on as a member of the Academic Year Program, which meets weekly throughout the school year to plan the farm for next year's season, build community and youth leadership, and explore food and social justice issues.

We sat down with Eva to learn more about her story...

"At Food Works, we grow food from seeds, it is all organic food. We have a CSA and sell to Village Market. We provide organic, sustainable food for the community. People can really get a sense where their food comes from and I think that's really cool.

I work alongside a lot of other youth. A big part of my job is being open to experiences, learning a lot, and taking a step back. Another big role I have is to listen and learn and teach. Just because some people are older than me doesn't mean I can't teach them and they can't learn from me. I think that is a cool part of the job.

A big gift that I learned from my grandma was empathy. She would help other people because she knew the struggles of these people and she could empathize with them. She was one of my biggest role models. Even in my hardest and weakest moments I want to be able to recognize what other people feel and try to help them.

When I was in third grade, I wrote a poem because I was so in to my culture and learning about who I was. I was so inspired by the dancers, and I was having so much fun  at the powwows. My grandma would take me to  powwows and she would be so excited to see me dance." 

My Culture
A small pot of beef stew.
“Dance,” cries my close people and they get their wish.
I slip on my moccasins.
Native dancing is a dream.
The loud shouts make me feel at home.
Just a native song makes me feel like I belong.
So close to god I pray it will never go away.
In a true powwow
when I dance and my feet go off the floor
I never want to leave.
My hair smacks me in the face
and reminds me that I can’t stay forever.
So I enjoy dancing as much as I can.
I can’t believe that one night at the powwow could set me for life
But I can never get enough of my culture.

We want to give a BIG thank you to Eva for sharing her story and her poetry with all of us! The stories that we share are the building blocks of the relationships that make us a stronger community. In 2017, Food Works supported 24 youth leaders like Eva to grow themselves, their farm, their business, and their communities through Food Works programming!  To hear more stories from Eva and others in the Village Gardens community this month, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

Village Voices


In March of 2011, Chelsea noticed a job posting at Village Market, a brand new non-profit grocery store in her neighborhood of New Columbia in North Portland. As one of the first employees at Village Market, her  task was to help build the shelving that would eventually hold all our market goodies. Six years later, Chelsea is still providing warm customer service, helping out her community and has taken on management of fresh produce for the store. Whether she is ordering from Food Works youth farm or our supplier, her personal values support her commitment to meeting the growing demand for fresh produce in the neighborhood.

"I am most proud of changing my eating habits. Seven years ago, my sister in law was the first person to get me to try something she cooked that I don't really care for, but from then on I kept trying things. Now I eat more fruit and vegetables in my diet, and am learning how to cook with them and learning what is good for you. My toddlers really like to copy, so whatever I do...they do. They follow me around and I try to make eating exciting. So I say" Let's eat carrots kids!!" and they say "yay!". The more I am excited about a healthy snack, the more they are too. Peppers, I did not like for a long time and then I learned lots of ways to cook with them or to put them in my food and now I like to add them to a rice bowl with black beans, shredded chicken, taco seasoning and lime juice. I get my peppers by eating them like that.

My job lets me build relationships with people and get to know people, you never know when you might need help or someone might need you. I like to help people - whether
its my kids, my family, people at my church, my neighbors or customers...when you help somebody it does a lot for you. It makes me feel good as a person. Like for a day or something little for someone else that just makes you feel good..and then it comes back to you."

At Village Market, we are simply removing the biggest barrier to choice - affordability. For the past few years, Village Market has been using "Good Food" models to figure out how to level the playing field so that all people can choose fresh fruits and vegetables. We rely on supporters like you to make sure we all have authentic choices for how to feed ourselves and our loved ones.  Your donation helps to support Good Food and employment for North Portland neighbors.

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!