Urban Grange now under construction at Zenger Farm

They’ve been fundraising for quite some time. Now, see their groundbreaking ceremony, and the construction underway …

Just west of the Zenger Farm Farmhouse, excavators dig out the area in which the foundation of the new three-story Urban Grange will be constructed.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Zenger Farm – one of the region’s largest urban agricultural educational centers, located here in outer East Portland in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood – broke ground for its long-awaited “Urban Grange” center on July 21.

At the groundbreaking, project supporters ceremonially began the construction of the Urban Grange by putting shovels in the ground: Deb Lippoldt, James Sitzman, Jill Kuehler, Greg Capen, Gant Enderle, Commissioner Nick Fish, David Hyman, Kelly Klock, Patrick Quinton, Marc Boucher-Colbert, Claudia Knotek, and Lori Sobelson were wielding the spades. Robert Sams photo

“Zenger Farm is an essential partner in Portland’s continuing effort to tackle hunger with sustainable food solutions,” said Portland City Commissioner Nick Fish at the groundbreaking ceremony. “I am especially proud that this East Portland nonprofit is serving low-income families, and leading the way.”

They didn’t waste any time getting started on construction on their $2.3 million, 6,660-square-foot Urban Grange center, just west of the Zenger Farmhouse.

Zenger Farm Program Director David Perry says they expect their new building to be move-in ready by March, 2015.

“Our general contractor, B&G Builders, started excavating the area where we will be putting in the foundation for the building about ten days after the groundbreaking,” remarked Zenger Farm Program Director David Perry, who oversees the day-to-day operations for the nonprofit organization.

“There’ll be three floors,” Perry told East Portland News. “The basement will be an open flexible space with a large doorway connecting to the lower driveway, making it easy for loading, unloading, and storage. And we’ll be running some programs in there, I’m sure.”

The Urban Grange will allow Zenger Farm to double its outreach program. Artist’s conception provided by Zenger Farm

The main floor will be a large classroom space, with a commercial kitchen connected to the classroom. “It will be a great place for cooking classes,” Perry observed. “These kind of classes are really popular at our summer camps. And, we’ll be better equipped to show kids and adults in the neighborhood some great techniques for cooking farm fresh produce.”

On the third level of the new building will be office space for staff. “We’re growing faster than we can accommodate our staff,” Perry pointed out. “Anyone who’s been in the Farmhouse knows that our staff is now crammed into two small former bedrooms.”

If all goes well, the foundation for the Urban Grange will be poured well before the winter rains blow in.

The construction is expected to take about seven months. “The goal now is to get the foundation poured before the rainy season starts,” Perry said. “If all goes according to plan, we should be moving into it in the middle of March next year.”

Beyond simply providing additional staff space and classrooms, the Urban Grange is important to the community, Perry commented, because it will finally provide indoor space for all kinds of food-related activities, and allow Zenger Farm to double its outreach efforts.

“We hope people will continue to donate to Urban Grange Capital Fund,” urged Perry. “We’re still working on a $300,000 deficit we have to clear within the next eight months.”

Find out more about the Urban Grange, or contribute securely online at their website: CLICK HERE.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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