Zenger Farm ‘Urban Grange’ officially opens

See this, the first of many planned public events, at the Zenger Farm Urban Grange …

Visitors head to the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood of outer East Portland to check out the new Zenger Farm “Urban Grange”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Although the building has been in use for a couple of months, both as a commercial kitchen and for summer camps, the Zenger Farm Urban Grange hosted its official public gathering at its July 11 Open House.

> Read about Zenger Farm’s Summer Camps this year: CLICK HERE.

Zenger Farm Executive Director Mike Wenrick gets tips on making a pupusa tortilla from Community and Economic Development Intern Ariel Dooner.

“This is an important day, because this is the first day this Grange is open to the public,” said Zenger Farm Executive Director Mike Wenrick. “This building is intended to be a resource both our neighborhood and for the greater community at large.”

In addition to welcoming in the community at the open house, Wenrick added, “This is also a time when we get to dream about the future here at the Urban Grange, and hear ideas about it from our community.”

A highlight of the open house: Zenger Farm Community Chef Blanca Hernandez demonstrating how to make Salvadoran Summer Squash Pupusas – those are thick, filled, hand-made corn tortillas.

Until the Urban Grange building opened, Zenger Farm hadn’t had a large public space, Wenrick pointed out. Remodeling the farmhouse several years ago provided a small space in the kitchen and a patio for public events – only able to host a only a dozen or so guests.

“But, this 6,600 sq.ft. building really represents a big change for the neighborhood,” Wenrick told East Portland News. “It provides a place where we can have a lot of flexibility and options to have community meetings, community dinners – and we plan to hold quarterly gatherings in which we invite our neighbors to come share a meal together in the building.”

The “great room” opens onto a spacious covered deck that encircles the Urban Grange.

With the additional space, youth camps, family nutrition education workshops, and farmer training programs will also double in number, Wenrick said. A fully equipped commercial kitchen will house the new community cooking classes, and provide production facilities for Lents International Farmers Market food vendors.

Soon the staff will move from their “offices”, crammed into two former bedrooms in the farmhouse, to a spacious area on the top floor of the Urban Grange building, Wenrick remarked.

“There are a lot of possibilities with this new building,” Wenrick concluded.

During the Urban Grange open house, Zenger Farm Development Director Andrew Hogan takes guests on a tour of the farm.

The Urban Grange was the result of a two-year, $2.3 million capital campaign – an effort that still hasn’t yet been fully funded. You can help out by contributing online at the Zenger Farm website: CLICK HERE.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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