Illahee Gardens: Cultivating a Sovereign NAYA Food System
The Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) in Portland, Oregon is applying for several grants to launch a comprehensive program known internally as "Cultivating a Sovereign NAYA Food System." The development of tentatively titled "Illahee Gardens" will support the expansion of a small on-site education garden into a one-acre plot of land ready for commercial cultivation. The site will primarily serve as a location for launching food-based microenterprise ventures; education in organic planting, harvesting, and processing techniques; and, provide place-based opportunities for science, technology, engineering and math curriculum (STEM) and agricultural and land management career-technical education (CTE). Long term, the garden will enable behavioral change by creating a healthy, accessible options for acquiring food in a "food desert;" will create a long-term aesthetic improvement to the facility; and will increase the profile of the NAYA Family Center in the community. At completion, this project will have produced a green space in the largest and most diverse area of Portland, where access to food and open spaces remains below the citywide average. Opportunities to learn about food cultivation, processing, cooking, and value-added food techniques pique the highest level of interest among those we serve according to internal assessments of the programming desires of NAYA clients, students, and community members. In addition, regional reports reflect a critical need to address food insecurity. "The Native American in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile" (2011), a community survey of the Native American population of Portland, revealed that 20.9% of our community goes without food at least once per month, and more than a third of those individuals go without food at least once per week. Demographically, our clients are predominantly low-income, Native American, and single mothers; groups that each consistently experience higher hunger rates.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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