The Portland metropolitan area is well known nationwide for its cutting edge sustainability vision, urban development and farmland protection framework. The region has a large number of productive small farms within and near urban areas. There is a growing interest in, and support for, locally grown, sustainable food. This interest is driven by rising concerns over public health, food security, transportation costs, climate change, economic turmoil and the search for a more community-based, sustainable lifestyle. There is growing support for farmers markets, community supported agriculture (CSA), community gardens, local healthy school food programs and institutional purchases of fresh, locally grown produce. However, farming in and around the city has its unique challenges.
This Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education grant project identified key challenges that face our foodshed growers and producers and developed strategies for both planners and growers to overcome them. Small and new farmers around the Portland area have issues different from rural farmers such as difficulty finding land, accessing capital, competing neighboring land uses, confusing regulation and zoning laws, and coordinating with distributors and processors to get products to market. This project has attempted to help find solutions to address these unique challenges for both existing and emerging urban farmers.