Groups form to deal with hunger, gardens, more

A group of Forest Grove farmers and community leaders gathered March 8 to discuss how to make certain priorities a reality, including establishing a year-round farmers market, feeding hungry people and setting up more community garden spaces.

The Food Education Agriculture Solutions Together (FEAST) meeting organized by the Oregon Food Bank (OFB) and nonprofit Dairy Creek Community Food Web (DCCFW) drew about 50 people.

“The meeting went great,” said DCFW’s Robin Lindsley, who is spearheading the efforts. “We aired a lot of stuff and informed people who didn’t know what we’ve been up to since the last FEAST [event].”

At a 2011 gathering, DCCFW members decided to work on increasing food security, supporting new farmers, establishing a year-round market and community kitchens, developing more school gardens and nutrition education programs and supporting land-use policies that preserve valuable farmland.

“The meeting solidified there are still needs, people are still willing to work and progress is being made,” said Forest Grove City Councilor Victoria Lowe, who attended the first FEAST and the one last Saturday. “The support of the council is behind a lot of the work they’re doing. It’s all about sustainability and working together.”

The meeting’s main goal was to galvanize local residents’ efforts to move forward. A group working on a year-round farmers market or food co-op is already gaining momentum.

Beth Rankin, who recently moved to Forest Grove after helping start a year-round market on the east coast, has been fronting the group that meets every Tuesday at the Forest Grove Senior & Community Center at 7 p.m.

Rankin and Forest Grove resident Aldie Howard have looked at potential market spaces, and Jeff King, Forest Grove’s economic development manager, has attended the group’s last two meetings to join the discussion.

“It is very definitely wanted,” Rankin wrote after the FEAST on the group’s Facebook page, Year-Round Market in Forest Grove Working Group. The group aims to select a site, identify vendors, coordinate volunteers and take care of legal matters related to the establishment of such a market.

John Moore, who runs the St. Vincent de Paul food pantry at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church, focused on feeding hungry people in western Washington County.

“A lot of different people from different walks of life deal with hunger,”said Moore, who added that if individuals planted a few food items this year to donate, it would be a great help. In 2013, Moore said, the pantry gave away more than 7,000 pounds of donated fresh produce.

As for the community gardens, city officials are trying to identify potential properties and will address the issue this year during the Park, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan update process, according to Parks Department Director Tom Gamble.

Participants also indicated they were interested in land-use policy. “I think that’s a whole different discussion,” Lindsley said. “But it’s an important one — our farmland is getting constantly gobbled up around us.”

The city of North Plains also hosted a discussion with the OFB Saturday that drew about 10 people, including local farmers and Mayor David Hatcher.

Jessica Abad of the OFB said attendees wanted “a community platform for people to interact,” set up food education classes and establish more community gardens. Because the town has no full-service grocery store and a large elderly population, attendees agreed they’d like to start promoting the North Plains farmers market as a food venue.

Much of the discussion was also pointed at providing for the local food pantry and “helping people feed themselves,” said Vanessa VanDomelen of North Plains, through gardening classes, edible urban landscaping and backyard gardens.

Those interested in participating in Forest Grove-area efforts can email Lindsley at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To get involved in the North Plains discussion, contact Abad at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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