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Partner Spotlight: Oregon Tilth Organic Education Center

Volunteer

For the past four seasons the Organic Education Center (OEC) has been a featured beneficiary of Plate & Pitchfork. We are proud to stand with OEC as they work to strengthen the health of our community by being an interactive resource for growing sustainable food. To give you a more in-depth look at how the generous monetary support of Plate & Pitchfork dinners has impacted the program we talked with OEC program manager, Kathy Dang. Here is what she had to share!

WITH THE HELP OF PLATE AND PITCHFORK, the Organic Education Center (OEC) Program has grown considerably over the past few years. Your generous financial support has helped enhance our 6,000 sq. ft. teaching garden at Luscher Farm. Funds have gone to adopt-our-beds for the season, helping them be active teaching tools from seed to harvest. We use our garden as a classroom for hands-on education, and hundreds of students and volunteers learn about the ease and abundance of growing their own food in our garden each year. Most of the produce harvested is donated to the Sellwood Housing Authority, a low-income housing facility for veterans and people with disabilities, directly across the street from our office. We have also broadened our audience by holding new classes in NE Portland at Faubion School and helped establish their school garden in the process.
&Pitchfork include:

  • An updated irrigation system
  • Urban compost demonstrations
  • New seasonal educational signage in the garden
  • On the docket for 2011- building a new chicken tractor!

Plate & Pitchfork also contributes to our scholarship fund for our classes, especially our multi-session courses which cost a bit more. These scholarships make it possible to teach our programs to anyone who is interested in learning, allowing us to reach out to people on limited incomes.

Highlights from the past few years include:

  • More than tripled the number of organic gardening classes offered to the community from 10 classes in 2008 to 37 in 2010
  • Donate 1,000 pounds of fresh produce from our teaching garden annually to low-income communities
  • Educated over 1,000 adults, youth, and volunteers about organic growing practices

IN OUR WILDEST DREAMS, it would be amazing to be able to fund a paid internship at the OEC who would be exposed to the many facets of our program, from teaching, to community outreach to helping in the garden. What we really need are more hands to help us meet the increasing need for more organic gardening education - and another team member would be invaluable!

We would also like to develop new ‘garden to table’ programs to include more classes on cooking and preparing food directly from the garden. We want to be able to show people one of the greatest joys of growing their own food, eating it!  And a ‘garden to table’ program is a missing link in the full circle of food growing classes that the OEC currently offers.

MY MOST MEMORABLE PLATE & PITCHFORK EXPERIENCE was last July at Smith Berry Barn when I was 7 months pregnant. That evening the guests showed incredible support for our program, collectively donating $2,500! As the sun was setting and folks were eating their dessert laden with berries from the farm, I remember feeling an extreme sense of pride for the Plate & Pitchfork community who so generously and openly supported our program. Events like this truly inspire and remind me of the dynamic and symbiotic relationship that all those involved share… The growers, the planners, the volunteers and the community all come together to celebrate the joys of life, new growth and great organic food!