It was a hot day when we met Justine in NE Portland on 112th and Prescott at Senn's Dairy City Park. She shares a plot in a community garden space there owned by Portland Parks and Recreation. Cutting through a small bark-dust laden playground, then through a chain link gate, we walked into the vast green space where there were a handful of gardeners tending their respective spaces. Many 10 by 20 foot sections of organized garden plots made up the space with beautifully lined rows of kale, loose-leaf lettuce, green onions, and chard, and many other plants I've never seen before, fit perfectly next to each other in symmetrical lines. Many of these people here were obviously expert gardeners.
Justine's plot was in the back of the garden, adjacent to the back chain-link fence. Quaint but well-tended, Justine pointed out the many vegetables that were invisible beneath the dirt: tomatoes, zucchini, and...pumpkins! Lots of pumpkins. She's planning on canning her tomatoes and making pumpkin pie in the fall.
Justine is a single mom and drives a school bus during the school year so time and money are scarce when it comes to access to healthy nutritious food. That is why she told us she's very proud of her garden because three years ago, before Growing Gardens helped set up her space, Justine had never gardened at all. Now, she grows nutritious food all on her own, and she's very happy doing so. Click on the video above to hear more of her story!
Interview by Tomasz Low, Kyle Polson & Taylor Walker