Growing Gardens was originally inspired by the legacy of Dan Barker’s Home Gardening Project that built over 1,400 Home Gardens in Portland between 1983 and 1996. When Dan transitioned from building gardens to building a foundation supporting the start-up of programs across the country, a new and separate organization was incorporated in 1996 as the Portland Home Garden Project.
Building home gardens and responding to local demand for school gardens and other organizations creating garden-based education programs, our name changed in 1998 to Growing Gardens to reflect the breadth of mission. We work with hundreds of volunteers to build home gardens, school gardens, and gardens for other organizations, providing three-year support, supplies, seeds and plants, mentoring and more. Youth Grow after-school and summer garden clubs nurture the next generation of veggie eaters and growers while our Learn & Grow Workshops educate gardeners of all stripes to grow food at their doorstep.
Our Lettuce Grow Program works with incarcerated youths and adults, throughout the state of Oregon. Volunteers teach classes in gardening and horticulture and work side by side with inmates in their institution’s garden, which provides inmates with hands on gardening experience and a chance to help them grow their own food and food for local food banks. In 2016 Lettuce Grow grew 237,000 lbs. of foods for the institutions’ kitchens an additional 14,000 lbs. for food banks across the state.
Planting seeds for good food, healthy people and strong communities…we help people GROW!
Growing Gardens has been recognized as one of the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon since 2012.
Jason Skipton, Executive Director, received the Portland Business Journal’s 40 under 40 Award in 2018.
Rodney Bender, former Growing Gardens Garden Programs Manager, received the 2006 Skidmore Prize for Community from Willamette Week. The prize recognizes the dedication and commitment of people 35 and younger who are working to make the region a great place through nonprofit organizations.
Growing Gardens received the 2006 Sustainable Community Award awarded by Food Front Cooperative Grocery.
Growing Gardens was chosen as a 2003 Public Health Hero by Multnomah County Health Department! Growing Gardens also participates in GuideStar, the on-line standard for nonprofit accountability.