Food Justice Immersion – Day 2

Day 2 started off by waking up promptly at 9 am to start our day off with breakfast. We then made sandwiches before heading off to our first site at Jean’s Farm. At the gate we were greeted by Farmer Jeff, a leader for Rising Stone Farms. Jeans’s Farm is not only home to Rising Stone Farms, but also other groups dedicated to educating school children on food and sustainability. After learning a bit about what Rising Stone does from Farmer Jeff, we broke up into a three different groups focused on weeding, picking tomatoes, and cutting down corn plants. Everyone had an opportunity to get down and dirty, so to speak. We wrapped up our work and gathered with Farmer Jeff for a bit to reflect upon the work we had done. Farmer Jeff expressed his gratitude of our presence and sent us off on a positive note with a greater understanding and appreciation of his and Rising Stone’s mission and work. We then hopped in the vans and headed to Zenger Farms. Upon our arrival, we were excitedly greeted by Laura, an employee of Zenger Farms. Laura guided us on a tour of the farm, starting off with the turkeys. We learned that at the farm, they wisely use turkeys and chickens to fertilize and aerate the soil by moving them around the farm. As the tour proceeded, we saw and tasted various plants including beets, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers. The tour concluded by weeding one of the education gardens on the property and seeing the building in construction which will in-house a commercial kitchen as well as rooms for educating the public. Finally we tried one final selection from Zenger Farms and headed back to the church. We quickly dropped off our belongings and picked up others before heading back to our respective dorms and houses to shower. After showering we all headed to Shelley’s house where we enjoyed a dinner of pasta and kale. While the food settled we did a bit of reflecting and headed back to the church to wind down and watch a documentary called Fresh.

Both farms were excellent sites to learn about issues dealing with food justice hands on. Jean’s Farm and Zenger Farms are examples of CSAs or community sustainable agriculture. This model of farm focuses on giving back to the community. At the beginning of the harvest, members give money and in return get produce throughout the year. Many farms also donate a lot of the produce grown to food banks and to those in need. Zenger farms even reserves half of their member spots to those with Oregon Trail Cards. This way, low-income individuals can still have a way of buying fresh fruits and vegetables. Both farms were a different experience for the group as well. It was great getting to go to these places in person. At Jean’s farm we got down in the dirt and got to do more hands on stuff. At Zenger farm we learned more about the mechanics behind these farms and how they focus on sustainability. It was definitely an awesome experience for all of us.

Rising Stone Farm_Abby Heebner_sorting tomatillos Zenger Farm turkeys

“If you gobble at a male turkey, their head might turn blue.”

Food Justice Immersion – Day 1

We began our adventure by playing some name games to get to know each other a little better, then driving to The Leaven Church to set down our belongings.  We then divided ourselves into groups dedicated to organizing our breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week. We went to New Seasons grocery store to purchase the food needed for our meals.  After a successful and fun trip, we went to a nearby home to learn about and work with Portland Fruit Tree Project. Here, we learned how to harvest figs, sort and organize them, as well as talk with the Beneficial Harvest leaders of the organization about many food justice issues and concerns. After that, we went back to the church where Hayley, Paul, Jack, Teague, and Carolyn cooked a delicious dinner of rice with curry, mushrooms, red peppers, onions, and spaghetti squash.  Then we reflected on our day with discussion, while enjoying vegan chocolate ice cream.  Lastly, we ended the night by watching a TED talk called “A Guerilla Gardener in South Central.” We decided to go to sleep after all of this, because we knew that the days to come are going to be jam-packed with service activities and hard work.

All in all, day one was an exciting first step in our adventure into the realm of Food Justice. Talking with people who devote their lives to these issues was a great way to gain a deeper understanding of the struggles facing organizations and citizens who are trying to improve their communities through sustainable living. Portland Fruit Tree Project helped give us an idea of the work that’s being done and the work that still needs to be done. They also gave us a more nuanced look at food deserts, access to fresh produce, and the challenges of trying to get projects started in the parts of our community who need it most.

Group shot_2 PFTP_fig sorting

“You give a kid a piece of kale, and they won’t eat it, but if you get them to grow it and pick it themselves, then they’ll want to eat it.”

What is the Food Justice Immersion?

The Food Justice Plunge focuses on the disparities related to access to healthy food. We will travel to various sites in the greater Portland area, learning firsthand why the food system does not work for everyone, what food options are available to ourselves and others, what the ramifications of our food choices are, and how people on the ground are changing things for the better.

We will be working with awesome organizations like Growing Gardens, Oregon Food Bank, Transition Projects Inc, Portland Fruit Tree Project, and many others!