Take that, Portland!

Confession time: I’ve got a little beef with Portland.

I lived in Olympia, Wash. for eight years, and during that time I lost track of how many friends moved south to the glorious progressive mecca also known as PDX. Of course, this ties into my adolescent frustration with people leaving Sacramento for “the city” (i.e. San Francisco Bay Area) while our own city remained something of a backwater. It also explains my mysterious love for Tacoma (which will never be as cool or sexy as Seattle). I would rather that people stick around wherever they are and make good stuff happen, rather than going to where it is already going on. And I like people who do stick around (even if I don’t always live up to that myself). Fortunately, Sacramento has matured nicely since the last time I lived here, and great stuff seems to be popping up all over the place.

Portland is an amazing city on many levels, and one of the greatest is urban farming and other miscellaneous food systems. Great stuff happens in Portland, and it brings out my competitive side. Grrr!

Portland is home to a project called Yard Share, which helps connect people with under-used yards to people who are looking for a place to garden. This is pretty cool, but this morning I found out about a project that adds a third level out in a suburb called Rocklin. One neighbor provides the land, another provides the labor, and a third provides the water (which is a serious contribution in these parts). They have a detailed contract about what will happen to the bounty from their 1600 s.f. plot; it cannot be sold, their families will split it, and any surplus will go to charity.

I think this is a stellar example of how we can grow food everywhere. I especially like that it grew organically out of neighbors communicating, without the benefit of some fancy world-wide-web site. Better still, it was out in the ‘burbs, where this sort of thing isn’t supposed to happen. Secretly, I love when we downtown city-slickers get told.

In other news, I’ve also heard that at least nine churches in the Sacramento area are planting gardens, and I know for sure that my own little community got one started last weekend. I’m thrilled to see us putting that former lawn to better use.¬†

OK Portland, over to you. I know we can’t beat you (yet!), but it feels good to try.

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