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Seed to Supper Classes Sprouting in OR

PHOTO: How green is your thumb? Prospective vegetable gardeners living on tight budgets can sign up for Seed to Supper courses in 15 Oregon counties this spring to learn the basics. Photo courtesy Oregon Food Bank.
PHOTO: How green is your thumb? Prospective vegetable gardeners living on tight budgets can sign up for Seed to Supper courses in 15 Oregon counties this spring to learn the basics. Photo courtesy Oregon Food Bank.
February 27, 2015

PORTLAND, Ore. - It soon will be time to garden in Oregon, and in 15 counties around the state, volunteers are teaching "Seed to Supper" courses beginning in March.

Seed to Supper was created through Oregon Food Bank and the Oregon State University Extension Service to help adults on limited budgets learn to grow some of their own food. Master Gardener Lynn Cox, who helped develop the program and teaches it in Washington County, said Seed to Supper was designed to be adaptable for a wide range of audiences.

"We do a lot of programs at community libraries," she said. "One of our partners is the Hillsboro Park and Recreation Department. We work with school groups and church groups. We teach Seed to Supper classes on a fairly regular basis at the Inverness jail."

Each class meets once a week for five weeks, mostly indoors, she said, although some are focused around a particular school or community garden and might visit that space for soil testing or other hands-on work.

Hannah Ancel, community food-service coordinator for ACCESS, the Community Action Agency in Jackson County, said the classes build community as well as gardening skills. One class will be held at a Medford elementary school where there's a garden, in a neighborhood where the city is also adding a community garden to the local park.

"Seed to Supper is kind of playing a role in revitalizing that whole neighborhood, and trying to get people to think about where their food comes from and making healthy food choices," Ancel said. "It's this whole conversation that's happening as a neighborhood, around growing and eating healthy food."

Ancel added the novice gardeners learn from each other in the classes as well as from their instructors.

More host sites also are needed. Cox said the reactions of people who have taken the course are what keep the volunteer instructors coming back.

"People were saying things like, 'This has really made me feel like I could help my own family.' It wasn't just about growing a plant," she said. "It was about making real changes in people's lives."

Seed to Supper is free, but registration is required, and details are on Oregon Food Bank's website or available through its partner food banks.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR