I really wanted to make an episode of the IFC series Portlandia, (remember the Ordering the Chicken scene?) but it just didn't happen. Instead of capturing the hipster food scene in Portland—and I should note, we got free valet parking for driving a hybrid—we visited a practical and amazing farm project.
Janus Youth Programs has operated community-based programs for children, youth, and families in Oregon and Washington since 1972. They have a network of over 20 programs includes, including Janus Food Works, which employs 14 to 21 year-olds from Portland. The youth get involved in the planning, growing, selling, and donating of over 4,000 pounds of organic produce each year from the one-acre organic farm on Sauvie Island.
These teenagers were farming (really farming), working all day and selling their produce. While kids are often exploited in farm work, here they actually got paid. After filming with them, we created a dinner with the Plate and Pitchfork farm dinner series to showcase their work, and also invited the kids to enjoy the fruits of their labor. With these young farmers in attendance, a good time was had by all.
For more videos and recipes about sustainable food, visit www.theperennialplate.com