Dirt-stained jeans and t-shirts and grass-caked shorts line the long wooden farm table like a patchwork quilt. Sid Walters, Garrett Kelly and Patrick Anderson lean, stretch and yawn; greeting the new day around the outdoor dining perch. Gazing out over their three-acre organic farm in northwest Portland, Oregon the pride they feel for this space is palpable. It’s a pulsating moment of silence broken only by the squawks and quacks of their rowdy chickens and ducks.
The trio has good reason for this pride. This past June, with the help of a successful $30,000 Kickstarter Campaign, they are transforming Skyberry Farm from a focus on growing vegetables to sell, to growing vegetables to give.
“We never had a master plan like ‘let’s do this fun garden project,’” says Garrett. “It was always meant to be a passion project, not really a business. But, as we learned and did things, and built a community, and did farm-to-table dinners, met people, sold CSAs, we realized there was a big network we were growing. So then we had the change of heart to try to be like, ‘alright we’ve done farming three summers in a row, let’s do something different and grow it.’”
To make it fun and enjoyable, it’s not about the profit or the money, it’s about the community aspects. Events, bringing people in, promoting it, hosting and then that’s where we actually make most of our money. It’s the experience and the idea, not actually the physical vegetables themselves.
The plan, dubbed “Feed the Need,” focuses on the construction of a tiny home to serve as a bed and breakfast and an event space to host farm-to-table dinners, summer camps and events. The funds raised from these creations will in turn fuel a partnership with Oregon-based anti-hunger and youth organizations through which the farm’s produce will be donated.
“We’ve adapted this project in a very millennial kind of fashion,” says Sid, his hands wrapped around a steaming mug of black coffee, rich soil lining his palm’s cracks and crevices. “We’ve used the networks of our workplaces and being up on all the social media and ‘WWOOFing.’ The tools of essentially the modern farming age. We’ve really learned how to work with it so we can really make some great things happen here.”
The chickens sound off in agreement, pecking at uprooted kale stalks and cabbage hearts, clearly enjoying the fruits of this labor. Despite the rot of this aging bounty, the scraps still glow like jewels, representing hours of labor from seed to harvest.
Thank you Sid, Garrett and Patrick for spending your farm work day with us and for sending us home with bundles of kale and bright nasturtium blossoms. To follow the progress of the Skyberry Farm project visit the farm’s website, plus have a gander at the Kickstarter project that started feeding the need.
Photography: Celeste Noche
Interview and Text: Ariela Rose