‘Neighborhoods Garden’ celebrates – with Harvest Dinner

If you could smell the food being cooked during this dinner, you’d want to eat this story …

Bhutanese refugees Sahar Subba, Dilli Wagley, and Chaatra Monger prepare vegetables for the Neighborhoods Community Garden Harvest Dinner celebration.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It seems that creating the “Neighborhoods Community Garden” located in outer East Portland last year was a very good idea.

The garden, a project of non-profit Outgrowing Hunger, has been built and is sustained through the self-identified interests and strengths of Bhutanese, Mien, Burmese, Latino, and Anglo participants.

Cooking up a delicious-smelling curry storm is private chef Kusuma Rao of Ruchikala Catering. “I’m making a kind of an Indian infusion curry that I grew up eating,” she says.

“It represents a community partnership among 26 families, Lynwood Friends Church, Stark Firs – and has become a model for the spirit of cross-cultural community-building, neighborhood revitalization, stewardship of the environment, and the diverse community of East Portland’s neighborhoods,” said Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, as she awarded the project a 2013 Spirit of Portland Award two weeks ago. [CLICK HERE to read that story.]

Before the award was presented, on the evening of October 26, some 70 gardeners, supporters, and community members came together for their first Harvest Dinner, held at the Lynwood Friends Church at 835 SE 162nd Avenue.

Ricardo Mirnda and family enjoy their time at the garden – and at the celebration, he smiles.

Gardener Ricardo Mirnda and his family were on hand for the celebration. “It’s good because it gives us an opportunity to learn something positive,” he said.

“It is good to show the kids in our family about gardening, and help them learn how to grow vegetables. They learned the benefit of having a garden, and what it provides for the family,” Mirnda continued. “When I eat my own food, which I’ve grown with my own hands, I feel better, knowing that the food is grown organically. I feel comfortable, and very happy.”

Serving an appetizer of Asian pear slices is AmeriCorps member at Oliver Elementary School Kimina Jamison to PSU Urban Planning & Public Health student Hayley Pickus.

Outgrowing Hunger” Director Adam Kohl leads a tour of the Neighborhoods Community Garden.

“This Harvest Dinner is held in conjunction with National Food Day, and in support of our Neighborhoods Garden Program,” said Outgrowing Hunger Director Adam Kohl.

“Part of our aim,” Kohl continued, “is to raise awareness of food issues in outer East Portland, and what we’re doing to solve them here.

“And, we’re raising money to help build the gardens,” Kohl added. “We have about $60,000 worth of work to do, to build out our proposed Market Garden, and our Community Garden expansion.”

Under clear and sunny skies, the food preparation area expands to the church’s back yard.

Many guests tour the garden, before the Harvest Dinner begins.

Lynwood Friends Church member Charles R. Hysaw smacked his lips with delight as he sampled Asian pear slices being passed around before dinner, and looked pleased with the outcome of the project so far.

“A few years ago, we were contemplating what to do with the land our church owns. After a lot of prayer and consideration, Adam, from Outgrowing Hunger, came and shared a vision of what could be on the property. We thought that would be a great thing for the community. A couple of years out, now, things are growing and prospering – for the community,” said Hysaw.

Finding seats at tables, guests are ready to enjoy this Harvest Dinner.

Outgrowing Hunger is a recipient of the East Portland Action Plan and East Portland Neighborhood Small Grant Program funding. The organization is certified as a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation. To learn more, or to donate to help expand the program, see their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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