Like many Portland faith-based congregations, Trinity Lutheran Church in Northeast Portland had unused land next to their church. Neighborhood resident Michael Tevlin had a passion for local, sustainable agriculture. After one early morning jog by the church, an idea was born: Cully Neighborhood Farm–growing vegetables for neighbors and providing education to their adjacent school. Conversations between the two partners quickly turned into creative negotiations–Trinity Lutheran Church would lease the land to the start-up urban farm in exchange for donations to their food pantry, science and gardening lessons for their pre-K through 8 students, and the opportunity to engage their student body in learning about healthy, local food sources. It was win-win for both of the parties involved.
In 2010, EMSWCD provided a PIC grant to help develop the garden education program, matched by hefty donations of time and labor in creating the farm. With the assistance of University of Portland and Concordia University students, the Cully Young Farmers project developed and implemented weekly garden education curriculum for 103 students, many who qualify for free or reduced lunches. After harvesting their first carrots, the children screamed with delight and often brought home new herbs and vegetables for their families to cook up at night. One eighth-grade teacher commented, “I personally love this project, because it not only taught the kids about science and gardening, but also team building skills. The kids really got excited to see that they had grown things in their garden!”