The Gleaners: Giving More Than Food to the Working Poor
"The garden benefits BCS because we teach families how to garden for themselves while also providing fresh, organic food to the warehouse," says Angela. "This goes along with the philosophy of empowerment. Portland is such a foodie culture, but rather than pay high prices for organic foods, people learn to grow them themselves."
The Teaching Garden has also become a way Angela and her family can serve the city. "We have resources, we have land and gardening skills. We wanted a way to give and serve Portland, and now we have found it," says the mother of four.
BCS's sustainable model has attracted attention. In September, the organization was featured on the NBC Nightly News broadcast. Days later, a local news station followed suit. As a result, BCS has received many emails and calls from those who want to replicate what they are doing in their own cities. "We've always been open to replicating what we do, but we've been too busy to give it serious consideration," says Barry.
In 2008, Oregon senator Ron Wyden toured the warehouse and met with Barry, Suzanne, and the board. Visibly impressed, he asked, "How can I help you?"
They explained that if Wyden could provide a grant for them to buy the warehouse, it would reduce their overhead to free them to apply finances and time elsewhere. They explained that they had applied several times for the senate appropriation grant, without success.
"That's because you're not broken. This thing runs too good," said Senator Wyden. "Where I come from, it takes 10 people to sharpen a pencil."
Seizing the opportunity, Barry and Suzanne told Wyden not only what they needed to make BCS more efficient, but a plan that would help families throughout the state: "If you give us $3 million to buy this warehouse, we can help replicate this program all over Oregon."