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An Ardenwald 'food forest' project we told you about a year ago in THE BEE seems to be a success

DAVID F. ASHTON - Inspecting his small, but growing, Liberty apples: Its Teague Cullen, co-founder of the Winslow Food Forest on Sherrett Street in Ardenwald, up the hill east of McLoughlin Boulevard. Located on the northern City of Portland side of Milwaukie's Ardenwald neighborhood, the "Winslow Food Forest" started up in March of 2017.

Although Teague and Melissa Cullen have been urban farmers for more than a dozen years, over a year ago they negotiated a long-term lease with the City of Portland for the .67 acre plot they are now farming at 3499 S.E. Sherrett Street, east up the hill on Tacoma Street from McLoughlin Boulevard.

"Since you last visited, it's beginning to take root; we've put in about hundred crops and will end up growing and harvesting from one to three hundred crops," Teague Cullen remarked, before a June Open House began.

Some of the "crops" are admittedly small, with only one or two plants, "but they are there, and they are part of the overall ecosystem," Cullen assured THE BEE with a grin.

The fruit trees are still young, so the "food forest" isn't in orchard production yet, but their vegetable crops are, he said. "We're focusing on perennials; but annual plants are part of the system. Vegetables and flowers that self-seed around the garden do some of the work for us."

To support themselves, the duo sells crops to regular customers – such as chard, a green leafy vegetable that can be used in Mediterranean cooking; and borage, a vegetable with a cucumber-like taste. The garden offers cherry tomato mixes, summer squash, salad greens, rare greens, quinoa greens, and Inca berries, too.

"One of our main revenue sources is restaurants; so we're continuing to look for chefs and cooks who want to support this kind of regenerative agriculture, by buying vegetable specialty annual crops, edible flowers, and eventually orchard crops," Cullen said. "We also offer workshops and classes and tours to help support our project."

He and Melissa are proud, he said, of having transformed a "degraded piece of land into a healthier ecosystem. We've been speeding up the natural process of going from a bare field to a woodland ecosystem that majors in food plants."

Many of the concepts they're demonstration can be put to use in a backyard, Cullen remarked. "We invite people to come and learn about how to create their own 'food forest'."

Interested? Find out more online – www.WinslowFoodForest.com

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