Zenger Farm toasts ten years of hands-on food education

Take a look at this elegant event – and learn about the novel teaching program this urban farm provides – to help kids gain an appreciation of farming, right here in outer East Portland …

Lindsey Gay checks in the banquet guests, with the help of Jill Kuehler – Executive Director of the Friends of Zenger Farm.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Friends of Zenger Farm, the non-profit organization that operates the urban teaching farm on SE Foster Road in outer East Portland, celebrated their 10th anniversary with a gala dinner and auction at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry a couple of weeks ago.

“This is our Second Annual Farm-to-Table Dinner,” said Jill Kuehler, Executive Director of the Friends of Zenger Farm. “Tonight, we’ll dine on a five-course feast, prepared by Chef Joe McGarry from Bon Appétit, who is one of our board members.”

Cook Jimmy Schofield is one of the kitchen staff preparing the dinner, with Chef Joe McGarry looking on. “I’m proud to be a member of their board,” McGarry says.

Chuck and Sue Lewis pause while checking their silent auction bids. “I work with the Portland Development Commission,” Sue says. “PDC helped fund the farmhouse renovations at Zenger Farm, and we host the Lents International Farmers Market on PDC-owned property in Lents Town Center.”

Kuehler added that 200 people purchased tickets to the event this year – which included both a silent and live auction, after dinner was served.

“It looks like we’ll raise about $25,000 from this event,” smiled Kuehler. “This money is important to support Zenger Farm’s mission of food education. We bring more than 3,000 youths out to the farm every year, on field trips and in summer camps.  It’s giving these kids and adults in our area the opportunity to reconnect with ‘where their food comes from’.  Students get a chance to see how food grows; and how it tastes when it comes fresh from the ground or off the vine.”

Starting in 2009, Kuehler reminded us, Zenger Farm began offering classes for grownups as well. “We’ve held classes teaching things like backyard chicken-keeping, preserving, and cooking on a budget. We don’t have any winter classes scheduled, but check our website [and East Portland News’ Community Calendar] for upcoming spring classes.”

Toasting Zenger Farms are Alice Lasher and Jason Busch. “I’m a volunteer at the farm,” Lasher says. “We’re engaged, and thinking about getting married at Zenger Farm,” Busch confides. “She took me there on our first date; I was really impressed with the farm … and with Alice!”

An energetic Jim Mooney brings up the bids during the live auction.

To learn more about Zenger Farm, check their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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