The Portland metro area is abuzz with “Urban Farming.” Forward thinking Portlanders are tearing out lawns for vegetable gardens, raising chickens, keeping bees, and harvesting fruit. It seems everywhere you look you see cedar garden boxes on front lawns, and in many neighborhoods you can hear the chickens clucking. This trend has received much media attention in local papers including the Oregonian and local news channels.
This local trend serves many purposes. Portlanders are thinking differently about the use of the small city plots; they see the potential for food harvest, the impact of lawn chemicals and the waste of critical “green” space. Using urban plots for food production helps reduce soil erosion by the planting of trees, the reduction in concrete and water runoff, and forces city dwellers to think of their land as part of the larger ecosystem. Many locals are thinking of their traditional roots in self-sufficiency and rekindling interest to cope with the current economic state.
There are many local organizations and resources to assist in becoming a more aware land user and to promote urban farming:
The Portland Permaculture Guild promotes sustainable practices of harvesting food and living on the earth. They provide monthly educational meetings, workshops, and related activities. www.thedirt.org
Growing Gardens is a local non-profit organization that helps low-income families and community partners to utilize urban land for food production. www.growing-gardens.org
The Portland Farmers’ Market is a local organization that brings local produce straight from the farmer to the public. Many of the farmers use sustainable practices that help maintain soil quality. www.portlandfarmersmarket.org
Community Gardens is a program through the Portland Parks and Recreation that allows for individuals who do not have a garden plot to access public or private land to produce food and harvest excess fruit. 503-823-1612
For interest outside the Portland metro area, contact your local farmer’s market . coop grocery store, nursery supply store, or an established gardener in your area.