Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Livin' in the Blurbs: Springing into Action

Pssssst…don't tell anyone, but despite dire predictions of blizzards and storms, the daffodils are coming up around the neighborhood, trees are beginning to blossom and spring peas are being planted in gardens. Another sure sign of spring is the plethora of classes being offered at locales around the city for everything from urban beekeeping to gardening in small spaces to pruning trees to making cheese at home (a cheesemaking class at Kookoolan Farms, above). And adults don't get to have all the fun…there are classes for kids, too, so your budding chef, chicken wrangler or worm composter can get in on the action. All this and more for your spring edification can be found on the GoodStuffNW calendar in the column on the left, so take a couple of minutes to scroll down through the (extensive!) list. I guarantee you'll find something for yourself or someone you know!

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One of my favorite organizations in the city is Zenger Farm, and all during March you have an opportunity to eat and shop and have a percentage of your purchases benefit this urban farm. Why should you care? Because on 16 acres along the Springwater Corridor (10 acres of wetland; 6 acres of an organic farm) they train and support immigrant farmers to raise and sell their crops at the nearby Lents International Farmers' Market, bring area students to the farm for tours and hands-on classes, plus educate the larger community on sustainable food systems and environmental stewardship. If this sounds worthy to you, mark your calendars for the following dates:
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There's an oft-repeated saw that farmers' markets are just outdoor shopping malls for elitist foodies. Well, I'm here to tell you that's a big fat lie. Many, if not most, of our local farmers' markets have programs using grant funds from businesses like New Seasons Market to provide matching dollars for customers paying with SNAP (food stamps) cards. (This year New Seasons handed out grant awards ranging from $300 to $10,000 to 25 neighborhood farmers' markets.) What's really terrific for the SNAP recipients is that the tokens they get (above left) are nearly identical to the ones that other customers receive, taking the embarrassment factor out of their transactions. “Since the SNAP match program with New Seasons Market began in 2009, the Lents International Farmers Market (LIFM) has distributed over $8,000 in matched dollars, providing hundreds of underserved East Portland residents with access to fresh, healthy food,” said Laleña Dolby, Director of Development of Friends of Zenger Farm, a partner in LIFM. “In 2012, Zenger Farm will give at least $4,500 in matched SNAP funds, which will increase the number of families who can put healthy food on their tables as well as provide immediate support to emerging and immigrant farmers and vendors who sell at our market.” Amen.

Photo of tokens by Sarah Gilbert.


Lorraine said...

Wonderful info as always! I hope you don't mind if I'm sending people your way from my blog.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Gotta love those linkses…thanks, Lorraine!