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Heifer International’s Village Gardens project in Oregon has been working to provide farmers with increased leadership and farming skills to improve their food security since 2007.
From 2010-2011, a number of dramatic improvements in knowledge, attitudes and behaviorial changes were shown by the annual end-of-year survey. Because of the success of Village Gardens, more than 83 percent of participants say they know more about organizational development since joining the program.
Last spring, local farmers opened a Village Market to sell produce grown in local gardens. Staff and volunteers are working to ensure the product mix of the village market reflects the needs of the community. To date, 16 people have been supported by being placed in staff positions through direct hire.
With the opening of the Village Market, entrepreneurship throughout the program has flourished. The Food Works team’s goal was to sell $15,000 worth of produce, and they exceeded that goal by selling just over $17,000. Project leaders will now be adding six additional farmers’ market weekends to the market schedule to keep up with increasing demand. They will continue their pass-on a plant program, which helps low-income gardeners.