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2020 Block to Block Spotlight: Zenger Farm

By teaming up with the “Love, Tito’s” Block to Block program, Zenger Farm is redefining food accessibility to nurture its community.

Based in Portland, OR, Zenger Farm is a working urban farm with a mission to bring good food to all. With food accessibility being the organization’s main focus, the farm’s overall goals are much more expansive, and are paving the way in the PNW towards sustainability, environmental activism, and community development for culturally-specific groups. Its orchard acts as a hub for growth and impact, offering an abundance of programs to local community members.

With a perspective based in “food justice,” the organization envisions a world where food is “part of the web of healing relationships between people, land, and life.”

Crops growing at Tito's Farm

Tito's Farm

Inspired by Tito’s Farm at the distillery, the “Love, Tito’s” Block to Block program aims to create authentic connections between people and food. The farm makes fresh, nutritious food available through free gardens and farms built by community members and Team Tito's. Working alongside nonprofit organizations in major cities across the U.S., Block to Block is creating spaces that nurture neighborhoods in need.

The foundation of the Tito’s Farm matched with the vision behind this Portland-based nonprofit made Zenger Farm a natural fit for the “Love, Tito’s” Block to Block program.

With the help of “Love, Tito’s,” Zenger Farm could make necessary improvements to better preserve its harvest, create new infrastructure throughout the orchard, and ultimately enhance the resources it offers to the city of Portland while expanding their overall mission.

We connected with both Zenger Farm and Team Tito’s members Joey and Stephanie who had a first-hand experience working with the nonprofit through our Block to Block program.

Overview of Zenger Farm Photo courtesy of Zenger Farm
Crops growing at Zenger Farm Photo Courtesy of Zenger Farm
What motivates you to work with Zenger Farm?

Joey: Their commitment to the community. They welcome all people, adults, and children alike, to come learn and explore best practices in their various gardens on the property.

What do you hope this revitalized farm will bring to the community?

Joey: Access to healthy food, education on maintaining their own gardens, and the [opportunity] to continue highlighting community chefs – specifically women of color.

How has Tito’s Farm at the distillery inspired you to be part of this project?

Stephanie: The story of the Tito’s farm not only inspired me to be a part of this project, but by telling the story to the staff, farmers, and the community helpers of Zenger Farm, we really brought a deeper understanding as to why [Team Tito’s] was there, and why this is so important to us! A connection was made that day between our local community and our company.

What did you plant during the event? Did you face any challenges? If so, how did you overcome them?

Stephanie: We replanted an orchard that is now home to new fig and apple trees, a children’s garden with traditional vegetables (kale, carrots, etc.), and then several other beds that feature a variety of herbs and native plants.

This event was supposed to happen back in April, however due to COVID-19 we had to change up our schedule and projects. We re-directed our efforts into Autumn activities and hoped that we could still make a difference. Thankfully, the farm is so diverse we found plenty of projects that needed our help and attention!

What initially inspired your organization to build this farm?

Zenger Farm: Utilizing a 24-acres combined urban organic farm and wetland in Portland's most diverse neighborhood, we work to eliminate barriers. We provide direct access to land and nourishing fresh food for low-income Black and Indigenous [community members], and people of color (BIPOC) in our city. Through our work, we hope that Zenger Farm can serve as a model of a just food system and a place where everyone can connect to sustainably grown, culturally-appropriate food.

What is the estimated impact of this project?

Zenger Farm: This year, we saw the highest demand for our programs. Thanks to Tito's support we were able to increase our capacity to store and distribute produce [that] fed over 165 families (nearly 550 individuals) for the entire season. Our new orchard is a legacy investment that will help us fill the stated request from participants for more fruit.

What are your nonprofits’ aspirations for 2021 and beyond?

Zenger Farm: By the winter of 2021, we hope to begin shifting our farming practices to provide year-round produce. Our community has experienced greater food insecurity and reliance on our local food systems because of the pandemic. We have experienced a higher demand for all of our programs and resources including our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. This expansion in our growing season will allow us to feed more families and provide consistent year-round support.

To learn more about how “Love, Tito’s” is turning spirits into love and goodness by growing community gardens across the country, one block at a time, visit here.

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