Harvest party brings together diverse cultures

They call it a ‘Salas Party’ – but it highlights friendship over food …

Nepali, Bhutanese, and Burmese refugees comprise the majority of farmers who grow food in the Outgrowing Hunger Neighborhood Community Garden.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As their cooperative garden’s tomatoes, peppers, and onions matured last year, member growers of the Outgrowing Hunger Neighborhood Community Gardens decided to meet to hold a “Salsa Making Party”.

This year, on September 28, those who garden on the plot provided by the Lynwood Friends Church in outer East Portland – on SE 162nd Avenue, near SE Stark – again held their rain-or-shine picking and salsa-making celebration.

Because it was more rain than shine that day, the event was moved to the Rosewood Initiative Center, a half-block away.

Lynwood Friends Church member Dale Brown, Bhutanese coordinator Dilli Wazley, and Outgrowing Hunger Director Adam Kohl join for a photo during the annual Salsa-making party.

“It’s our second annual salsa and pesto making party,” smiled Outgrowing Hunger Executive Director Adam Kohl. “And, at the request from the community gardeners, we will roll into a community meeting immediately afterward.”

> See our story about this garden as it came into existence: CLICK HERE

“Outgrowing Hunger” coordinates and develops community gardens in partnership with residents to serve people in their own neighborhoods, Kohl explained.

“At this garden, two ethnic groups make up about two thirds of the gardeners: Nepali and Bhutanese refugees. About a quarter of the gardeners are Burmese, and the remainder are various other ethnicities. It’s almost a United Nations of gardening and food!”

To the majority of these gardeners, salsa and pesto are unknown foods; but tasted and seemed to enjoy the spicy condiment.

Participants Vanessa Walton, Trevor Branch, Jennifer Benson and Teri Schneider slice, chop, and blend fresh salsa.

“What this does for the community is that it gives them a chance to meet each other,” Kohl told East Portland News.

“I think one of the biggest issues is that people don’t know or trust their neighbors. This is particularly true in the marginalized groups; they often don’t have strong ties to the broader community. This garden, and the community that has developed around it, really helps anchor them and helps establish them as part of the community.”

“Outgrowing Hunger” is a recipient of the East Portland Action Plan and East Portland Neighborhood Small Grant Program funding.

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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