The Portland Growers Alliance is a new social enterprise helping beginning farmers to market and distribute fresh produce. It is a collaborative effort between Mercy Corps Northwest’s refugee agriculture project and Grow Portland, a new grassroots urban agriculture organization.
Starting this August, they will be kicking off a 14-week Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. CSAs offer customers a share of the harvest at the start of the season. Members pay upfront and receive a box of fresh vegetables each week. In a CSA, the community can both connect with and support local farmers on an ongoing sustained basis, and also easily incorporate fresh, delicious and seasonally harvested food into their lives.
By Andy Parker
Crouched close to the loamy soil, the two women work as one, their ebony hair shining brilliantly in the midday sun as their four hands move seamlessly across the tidy garden plot rows.
Fifteen, 20, then 30 minutes whisk by and never once do they rise from their work, their motions as effortless as the flights of the half-dozen butterflies riding the warm afternoon breezes across the garden. The women are plucking the little leaves of the mustard plant, one at a time, leaf by leaf, then quickly tying them into small bundles and tossing them toward a plastic tub, their fingers back picking greens before the bundles come to rest.
It’s a mesmerizing, well-practiced rhythm, one of the few remaining signature patterns in lives torn apart by the politics and intolerance of their homeland — the mystical Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan where, since 1990, the Bhutanese majority has forced more than 100,000 citizens of Nepali descent into refugee camps in Nepal.