Rob Cato, Co-Executive Director
11741 SE Foster Rd., Portland, OR 97266
Zenger Farm is a non-profit 16-acre farm and wetland in outer southeast Portland dedicated to promoting sustainable food systems, environmental stewardship, community development and access to good, nourishing food for all. Since 1999, Zenger Farm has been teaching kids and families the connection between healthy land and healthy people, where good, healthy food comes from, how it’s grown and the importance of eating it every day. In our first year, 200 kids visited Zenger Farm; last year, we hosted over 10,000 visitors through our various programs described below.
Youth Education: In 2015, our youth education program connected more than 6,700 students to Zenger Farm through our field trip, Farm School, youth camps and Home School programs. Many of these students come from our local school district, David Douglas, in which 63 native languages are spoken and 24% of students are English-language learners. Our experiential and science-based programs teach kids of all backgrounds about food, farming, wetland conservation and environmental stewardship.
CSA Partnerships for Health: Our CSA Partnerships for Health program connects families experiencing diet-related chronic disease with a season’s worth of fresh vegetables from a local farm (Zenger Farm being one of these farms) and tracks changes in health as a result of participation in the program. This program was launched in 2015 in partnership with Multnomah County’s Mid-County Health Clinic, and served 25 families; this year, we’ve grown the participants to 100 families, and we hope to enroll 1,000 families in the program in 2017. As the program grows, we hope evaluation proves that an upstream investment in preventative health (improved diet) will result in improved health, reduced health care spending on medications and hospitalization and a significant investment in local sustainable agriculture.
Community Chefs: Our Community Chef program celebrates the diverse food traditions represented in our neighborhood by empowering food leaders to share their knowledge by teaching healthy dishes from their country of origin. Currently, Community Chefs herald from El Salvador, Mexico, the Philippines, Nepal and Bhutan. In 2015, 1,025 of our neighbors participating in Community Chef workshops and demonstrations.
Healthy Eating on a Budget: Our Healthy Eating on a Budget program connects low-income families with the tools, skills and knowledge they need to make healthy eating a reality. People learn how to prepare nutritious meals with limited time and budget and are connected with local resources that can help them stretch their food dollars, such as the SNAP match program at their local farmer’s market.
Farm Internship: The average age of American farmers is now 60 years old. To invest in the future of farming in our region, our farm internship program trains the next generation of farmers in sustainable agriculture. Interns learn to grow annual crops from seed to harvest and care for farm livestock, receiving on-the-job training and hands-on education throughout the course of the growing season. 75% of intern graduates from the past 7 years are professionally farming for a living, many in the state of Oregon.