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This week CROPS dropped off more than 250 pounds of fresh veggies for Thanksgiving to SnowCap Community Charities, the largest food pantry in the Oregon Food Bank network. Even though the growing season at CROPS is almost over, there are still ways to help feed our residents in need.
Judy Alley, SnowCap’s Executive Director, says, “Thanks to generous turkey donations we were able to provide our patrons with Thanksgiving fare. But over the next month we are still working to fulfill traditional holiday food items, particularly meat (turkeys, hams, and whole chickens). Snowcap expects to serve 900-1000 families the week of Christmas and would like to be able to offer each family a complete holiday meal.” SnowCap is always accepting monetary and in-kind donations and greatly appreciates these contributions to the hungry families in our community. Please visit the SnowCap website for more information.
Special request: Every month SnowCap purchases $500 of baby formula and they run out constantly. If you want to go shopping for food to donate baby formula is greatly desired.
It is no secret that Multnomah County Alternative Community Service (ACS) has played large role in making CROPS the success it is today. Thirty year Multnomah County veteran and Community Justice Manager, Gerard Welch, was eager to participate when asked if ACS would help the CROPS program get off the ground. Gerard was familiar with the land the county intended to develop for CROPS, saying, “In east county we knew that area off of NE Halsey as the old pig farm and remember the former owner, Fuji Farms, who grew a variety of berries. It seemed a reasonable location for the site considering that it has been farmed pretty consistently over the last 100 years.”
After the county took care of the necessary paperwork and processes (feasibility study, labor allocation etc.), phase one- blackberry bush removal began in April 2009. Being a gardener for most of his life, and familiar with the many noxious weeds/invasive species in Oregon, Gerard was ready to take this on. Multiple ACS vans with up to 30 people per day were at the front line removing 5-8 foot tall blackberry bushes. It took a little under a month to clear the first field of the two acre area that was to become the farm and the project went full steam ahead with the teamwork of Dan Bravin, ACS and a diverse group of community volunteers. These efforts paid off when the harvest total came in at 6 tons that first year, all going to the Oregon Food Bank.
Gerard fondly remembers his time out in the field working alongside those fulfilling their community service hours. He says, “Having people serve at CROPS is an ideal example of the restorative justice philosophy, which is the foundation of ACS. Our ultimate goal is restoring offenders to the community, and what better way than growing food for others in need. When they see their actions have a direct positive impact on their community they definitely tell people about it.” Gerard would love to someday see an expansion of the farm knowing that the need for emergency food is continuing to rise.
Without the help from ACS it would have taken much longer to get CROPS in farmable condition. ACS crews have continued to support CROPS over the years and are an integral part of the property’s weekly maintenance.
A special thanks to Gerard and his ACS crew leaders- we couldn’t do it without you!
Who would have guessed that the Multnomah County Poor Farm would some day become a popular resort destination and still help feed county residents in need? One-hundred years ago the future location of CROPS Farm and McMenamins Edgefield was nothing more than a construction site and 345 acres of surrounding agricultural land in Troutdale, OR. A new poor farm was being built to replace the failing original location in Portland’s West Hills.
In November of 1911 the poor farm opened its doors, beginning a successful seven decades of food production. Peak population of the farm coincided with the Great Depression and more than 600 people worked the thriving fields at this time. The surplus of food grown fed farm residents, inmates at the county jail and patients at the hospital. By the late 1960s the farm’s population had declined significantly (due to various factors) and farming operations ceased. The compound was renamed Edgefield nursing home and continued service until 1982 when it was closed permanently. The Troutdale Historical Society rallied to prevent the defunct property from being destroyed. This gave the McMenamin brothers enough time to secure funding and purchase Edgefield in 1990. And the rest is history!
Take a look at the wonderful historic map, courtesy of McMenamins, of the Multnomah County Poor Farm in 1938. It details the variety of crops planted that year and also shows the future location of County CROPS, the former pig farm (lower left corner of map). CROPS continues the poor farm’s legacy of service in our community by donating all produce to the Oregon Food Bank. A special thanks to McMenamins for their ongoing support!
To learn more about the poor farm please see our previous blogs: A Little History Lesson (Part 1), A Little History Lesson (Part 2), all the info at McMenamins Edgefield (they have a great timeline) and the Oregon Encyclopedia.
The preservation of Edgefield’s rich history has been ensured for generations, thanks to the rigorous research and documentation of Sharon Nesbit. Nesbit, a major source for this & previous posts, is a historian, reporter for the Gresham Outlook and member of the Troutdale Historical Society.
Hills, Tim and Sharon Nesbit. McMenamins Vintage Edgefield, A History of The Multnomah County Poor Farm. Portland: McMenamins, Inc, 2002.
Thank you to the wonderful volunteers from Columbia Ridge Church in Troutdale that came out to CROPS earlier this month! The group harvested an impressive 589 pounds of green bell peppers, specialty hot peppers and carrots for the Oregon Food Bank. In addition to harvesting vegetables to feed the hungry, church volunteers also transplanted raspberry plants, turned compost piles and prepared beds for cover crop seeding. CROPS greatly appreciates the countless hours that volunteers from Columbia Ridge and many others in our community have donated.
If you would like to volunteer at CROPS please visit Hands On Greater Portland for more information.
Thank you to all the Hands On Greater Portland volunteers and county staff who came out to our Food Day work party! We had a beautiful fall day on the farm and harvested 362 pounds of fresh local produce for SnowCap Community Charities!!
It is wonderful that people from around the country and world got together to celebrate National Food Day events this month. But it doesn't have to stop there. Everyday people make choices about what they eat. Thinking about where your food is coming from and how it is produced is the essence of the Food Day movement. If we begin to learn about and consider the well being of all stakeholders in the food web, we will be able to make better informed personal decisions. Which in turn helps us to drive public policies that can make a positive impact for all.
Six Food Day principles:
1. Reduce diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods
2. Support sustainable farms and limit subsidies to big agribusiness
3. Expand access to food and alleviate hunger
4. Protect the environment and animals by reforming factory farms
5. Promote health by curbing junk food marketing to kids
6. Support fair conditions for food and farm workers