2.6 acre urban farm / spiritual retreat center in formation stage. Up to an additional 1 acre of neighboring pasture land could be added. Located in outer SE Portland, in a semi-secluded neighborhood, our land has the feel of being in the country even though we are not.
Please see Mission and Vision statements under long term vision for property. Our short tern vision must fit into that long term plan, and it will be essential for who ever we partner with to be really excited by, and feel a calling to contribute to the development of our mission. We also will need a person with the skills needed to manage some or all of the the short term goals below. It would be conceivable to find a collective of persons to accomplish these. We want the persons we partner with to experience great reward from what they will be creating here. Additional financial remuneration is negotiable.
Immediately we want to focus on getting the portion of land suitable for farming into functional production and to develop income generating capacity from this as well as donating healthy food to feed those who cannot afford to buy. We also want to restore the remainder of the land to sustainable, ecologically appropriate native species, yet designed with providing enjoyment by people; a place where people can feel immersed in nature. We will continue to eradicate invasive species, work together with nature to create highly fertile soil in areas suitable for growing vegetables, develop an income stream through growing high quality organic produce for a CSA program, and provide high quality food for programs that feed the hungry (possibly on contract). We also have a high tunnel to erect (requires some additional modification due to slope compensation), and repairs will be needed on some buildings.
This year we hope to implement the first of what we hope will become life changing education programs. We plan to develop a 2 to 3 day hands on youth education program that will present modules starting with experiencing LIVING soil and learning how the life in the soil participates in growing healthy food, through planting, tending, and harvesting food. There will also be modules available focused on care and interacting with goats, and another focused on chickens. (The chicken modules will depend upon chicken husbandry being added here as we do not currently have any chickens.) Each module will include at least some time with hands on experience of what is being learned. So the youth will actually become involved in all stages of plant growing. This program will also be income generating, though with the possibility of balancing the charges with ability to pay.
In general groups of kids, supervised by their own sponsors who bring them, will spend two to three days (daytime only) at Abba's Garden ending on Friday afternoon or evening. On Saturday they will proceed to deliver the food they harvested Friday to a non-profit that will turn this into hot meals to be served that afternoon at several homeless camps with their participation.
A primary goal will be for the youth to experience "worshipful work". Great care will be taken to facilitate this kind of a positive work experience while tending our gardens.
Abba's Garden is dedicated to:
Getting hands dirty…
to grow and provide healthy food, nurture community, strengthen spirituality, provide education
and create space for city dwellers to restore connection with the earth, each other, and God.
Abba’s Garden envisions a world moved by beauty and love that heals and restores relationship between earth, each other, and Spirit.
Vision Statement, Expanded:
1. Why Abba?
Abba’s Garden belongs to Abba, a name for God used by Jesus that in Hebrew means “Daddy”. The name holds within it a relational understanding of God, familiar and loving rather than demanding and austere. Abba’s Garden is for Abba’s people, or the people whom Abba loves. As Jesus demonstrated, that means everyone.
2. God’s sacred earth
Abba’s Garden is part of God's sacred earth. The human labor that tends it thus becomes sacred also, and we seek to work in a worshipful manner. Sustainable practices that heal rather than harm the earth and the people and ecological systems that inhabit it are to be used.
3. The Abba’s Garden experience
This is to be a place where city dwellers can experience God’s Creation (the earth and all living forms, microscopic and macroscopic that are sustained by it) and learn to tend it; a place that will spread God’s love, directly through working the earth, through encountering nature that is a part of the earth, and also through the relationships that form between Abba’s people who connect with each other through Abba’s Garden.
We think of religions as the different languages people have developed to help them think about, communicate about, and understand or experience the divine. All spiritual languages are welcome here. We believe that God is amply capable of speaking all languages, and meets people where ever they are at, including through no language. Just as the different linguistic languages each have their strengths and weaknesses in communicating certain concepts and certain understandings of the world that mesh with the cultural and physical differences relevant to the group native to that language, so religious languages each have strengths and weaknesses. A given religious language has the potential to shape a person’s concept of God in ways that may restrict, or limit God. We believe that having persons who speak a variety of spiritual languages building community together will bless all of us with a greater understanding of what is really beyond our human ability to fully understand. We thus encourage participants to respectfully yet unashamedly speak their spiritual language rather than trying to hide or make invisible unique expressions of that language in fear of offending someone.
5. The mode of the invitation. Silence of mind is the teacher.
Those who encounter or serve Abba at Abba’s Garden are encouraged to practice a “listening” mode, where silence is a valued space punctuating the experiential landscape, and surrounding spoken statements. We cultivate a silence of the mind. Listening is the key, rather than not talking. Both sounds of joy and sounds of pain are welcomed by this silence, and in silence we can hear the whispering of Abba’s guidance.
6. Upside down economics
Abba’s Garden aims to practice the Kingdom of God right here on Earth and exists in contrast to established power structures. It is a place where the atmosphere is one of abundance rather than scarcity, something that results from shifting from material, cultural values, to Kingdom values. Here community is of higher value than capital; Love and Grace are what energizes Power, and Power Over someone or something does not have true legitimacy. The servant role is valued and esteemed, and leaders carry out their leadership by serving those they lead. Our identity is not defined by wealth or poverty, but by the freedom of contentment. In the Upside Down Economic system, aspects with the greatest value follow this pattern: the more of these aspects you give away, the more you have. Abundance!
7. Practicing mindful community
Abba’s Garden raises healthy food, nurtures community, and provides opportunity for retreats, teaching, and learning. Abba’s Garden is a community. Some attend for a day, others for a month or years. But all play a vital role in contributing to the community. Many will participate in our celebration of the land and it’s abundance through contributing to that abundance.
We have been working to control Blackberries and other invasives for the past two years using goats and our flail mower. Once the blackberries are gone the land converts to pasture in some areas, weedy pasture in others. We have put up a perimeter fence with several interior paddocks for the purpose of rotational goat browsing. Currently only our west fence line and one paddock of approximately one half acre remain in virgin blackberry (and other invasive species) woodland.
We sheet mulched our first small garden in 2016, and doubled it's size for 2017. Additionally in 2017 a 25' X 62' section of pasture was converted to terraced garden beds, and currently is in a rye grass and legume cover crop over winter.
(In 2017 we donated in excess of 850 lbs of organic produce to Portland Rescue Mission who feeds the homeless.)
Another section of pasture approximately 62' X 100' is waiting for conversion. In addition, a neighboring parcel, approximately 1 acre of pasture land, is available to us to develop.
An irrigation well is restorable. Previously outputting 24 gallon per minute. Don't know about water rights. Without them irrigation of .5 acres per lot is allowed. We also have city water if needed, and lots of cut wood that could be used to create hugelkultur beds for "dry" farming :-).
Clay soil (Our soil analysis from OSU reports 46%silt and 35% sand but we believe they sent us erroneous results from someone else's soil) containing minimal to no rocks.
Our land is sloped and requires terracing. We have been able to create nicely stair stepped terraces approximately 4' wide (includes a pathway area on the uphill side) using the BCS rotary plow followed by the rototiller. We have amended one area with OMSI approved lime plus large amounts of organic compost, with great results.
Approximately 1 acre of our own land is free of tree cover, with another 1 acre neighboring pasture land available to develop. The remaining portion of our land is partially shaded with the remnants of an ancient walnut tree grove with several old pear and apple trees.
A 20' X 60' high tunnel is not yet installed. (We have been awarded a high tunnel grant from NRCS.)
An old barn with loft 24' X 24' (main structure is sound, roof at end of life, windows and doors need repair), A small shed currently being used for hay storage, 1 earthen floor animal shelter building in need of new roof, 3 portable animal shelters, a 2 car garage suitable for use as a shop (table saw, skill saw, and a variety of other wood working tools are available). A one car canvas garage has been set up for storage of implements, etc.
A BCS Walking Tractor, model 749 with several attachments: 30" tiller, rotary plough, flail mower, wood chipper, and trailer. Also a string trimmer, small chain saw, lawn mower, and a variety of hand tools. We will provide additional equipment as needed.
We are within Portland city limits, Zoned residential, and have supportive neighbors which is a key for obtaining exceptions to zoning restrictions.
Not sure about water rights yet. Without them we are allowed to irrigate up to .5 acres per lot with well water. City water use would cost more but be unrestricted.
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