Every family should have the opportunity to strive for a healthier, happier and more stable future. When families can support themselves in ways that are meaningful to them, our communities become stronger and we all benefit. That’s why Huerto de la Familia, a community-led organization in Eugene, Oregon, provides the means for Latino families in Lane County to improve their health and economic self-sufficiency.
One way Huerto de la Familia does this is through their Cambios Micro-Development Program. Every year, Latino families in Lane County who want to start their own small businesses, or take small businesses they’ve already started to the next level, sign up for weekly classes, participate in one-on-one business counseling sessions and create their business plans.
Over the last year, Cambios Micro-Development Program has expanded and evolved to better meet the needs of community members. Previously, the weekly class ran for ten weeks. Now it runs for twenty. On top of that, participants planning to start farm businesses can sign up for an additional eight weeks of specialized training through a curriculum designed, and taught, by staff from Oregon State University’s Small Farms Program. They practice their new skills for large-scale planting on land donated by Two Rivers and Love Farms. Other participants, who plan to start restaurants, have the chance to test their businesses and earn money in Huerto de la Familia’s food booth incubator.
The partnership doesn’t stop there. Huerto de la Familia’s executive director, Marissa Garcia, emphasizes that this work doesn’t result in instant gratification. Huerto de la Famila works with families for years, until they can sustain their businesses on their own.
Cambios Micro-Development Program allows Latino families to make a living doing work they love and believe in. As a result, community members benefit through access to healthy, local and culturally significant food. For instance, one man who recently graduated from the twenty-week training will raise livestock humanely, with an emphasis on providing meat for specific Mexican cultural dishes, such as birria. Another participant will start a farming nonprofit with the aim of growing healthy food for people who can’t afford it, especially people who don’t have the time or ability to grow their own food in Huerto de la Familia’s garden (e.g. parents with young children, those with chronic illnesses, elders, etc.)
Huerto de la Familia’s goals for Cambios Micro-Development Program go beyond immediate change. The organization and participants have a bigger vision, for long-term change, as well. They want the Latino families involved to become leaders in Lane County’s business community, and in the community as a whole. Currently, 12% of Oregon’s residents are Latino. That number isn’t reflected in Oregon’s leadership, and Huerto de la Familia hopes Cambios Micro-Development Program will contribute to changing that.
Huerto de la Familia is one of Northwest Health Foundation's Kaiser Permanente Community Fund funded partners.
Westside Community Garden provides "a communal and educational space for growing local, fresh and organic food while building a supportive community" in Roseburg, Oregon. So far, the space includes 16 foot by 16 foot garden plots, raised beds, three labyrinths, a butterfly garden, a bamboo garden, a mushroom garden and, soon, an accessible forest garden.
It would take a LONG time to list all of the organizations and people who have contributed to the Garden, so we'll limit ourselves to highlighting a few here:
Umpqua Valley disAbilities Network plays a key role in ensuring the Garden is accessible to people with disabilities. They were responsible for creating raised beds so that people who can't crouch or bend over to reach the ground can still garden. They've worked hard to make other parts of the garden accessible, too.
An Eagle Scout project contributed an accessible plank walkway with wheelchair ramps.
Meals on Wheels of Roseburg and others take advantage of the produce grown in the garden, distributing it to hungry residents in need of healthy food.
We could go on and on. In short, Westside Community Garden is an amazing collaborative effort contributing to the physical, mental, social and spiritual health of Roseburg's community members.
Northwest Health Foundation supported Westside Community Garden of Roseburg through a Learning Together, Connecting Communities grant to Umpqua Valley disAbilities Network in 2014.
It's giving season again, folks! That means Willamette Week's Give!Guide is collecting donations now through midnight on December 31st, with a goal of raising $3,250,000 total for 143 deserving Portland nonprofits.
Several of those 143 nonprofits are Northwest Health Foundation's past and current funded partners. Check them out! We've included five below, and you can find more in our Grants Archive. These community organizations are doing amazing work for our region, and they have earned every bit of support you can offer them.
Adelante Mujeres provides holistic education and empowerment opportunities to low income Latina women and their families to ensure full participation and active leadership in the community. Their programs include child and adult education, youth leadership, business development, a farmers market and more! Most recently, NWHF awarded Adelante Mujeres a Kaiser Permanente Community Fund (KPCF) grant for ESPERE, a program aimed at addressing the issue of individual, familial and societal violence among Latino immigrant families.
Hacienda CDC is a Latino Community Development Corporation that strengthens families by providing affordable housing, homeownership support, economic advancement and educational opportunities. This year, Hacienda CDC opened the Portland Mercado, Portland's first Latino public market. A KPCF grant helped fund the establishment of this economic and cultural hub in SE Portland.
Latino Network provides transformative opportunities, services and advocacy for the education, leadership and civic engagement of our youth, families and communities. NWHF supports Latino Network through a KPCF grant to Juntos Aprendemos, a program that prepares 3-5 year olds for success in kindergarten and equips parents with the skills and confidence to be their child’s first teachers.
REACH provides quality, affordable housing for individuals, families and communities to thrive. Recently, REACH completed an affordable housing project called Orchards at Orenco, which won recognition for being the largest multi-family Passive House building in the United States. KPCF funded REACH to investigate strategies and best practices to develop and implement a paid job training program for REACH residents.
Village Gardens brings a spirit of hope to the people by growing and sharing healthy food, learning and teaching skills, and empowering community leadership. Village Gardens includes individual and family garden plots, employment opportunities for adults and teens, after-school and summer activities for children, homework clubs, an emerging livestock project, a Community Health Worker program, and a youth-run entrepreneurial business. KPCF is funding Village Gardens to launch a community driven network of food based micro enterprises.
In Washington County, research shows the health outcomes for Latinos are significantly worse than those of other ethnic backgrounds. The concentrated poverty for immigrant farmers, challenges of adapting to a new culture and poor urban planning have all added to the poor health of Washington County’s Latino population. However, it is also evident that lifestyle choices have also played a large role. For Adelante Mujeres, a Forest Grove, Oregon-based nonprofit, the solution lies in holistic education about health, food, and nutrition to inspire positive lifestyle changes.
“Nourish the Community,” one of Adelante Mujeres’ newest initiatives, aims to incorporate nutrition education into their already established programs such as their Adult Education, Chicas, and Early Education programs. Nourish the Community was funded with a $200,000 Kaiser Permanente Community Fund grant in 2011. “This is an initiative where the values of health, wellness and nutrition are disseminated throughout all of the programs,” said Kaely Summers, Adelante Mujeres’ Farm Coordinator.
“It’s been encouraging and helpful to have the support of NWHF and Kaiser for organizational capacity. Now we have the time to planning this all out the best way possible.”
Adelante Mujeres focuses on education and access, and “one way of doing this is the farmers market,” said Summers, “We have this resource here that we’re bring all of this great food and local fruits and veggies and organic food to the people of forest grove and the greater community. Through our matching program, people come with food stamps or with their WIC checks and can get that same amount matched up to 10 dollars a week. Essentially if they swipe their card for 10 dollars they’ll get 20 dollars in total!”
Adelante also focuses on microenterprise. “We have a microenterprise goal so that our producers, our farmers, as well as food producers like the tamale makers are now contributing to the community as producers of a health resource,” said Summers, “Obviously if people are financially sound they can make healthier choices in their life.”
Finally, Adelante focuses on community advocacy. “We want our participants to be more politically, and civically active in the community and what they’re doing.” said Summers, “we want them to learn things in the walking club and share them with their neighbors and extended families.”
Adelante acknowledges that the Forest Grove community represents many different levels of health and wellness. “Some people are struggling with diabetes and don’t know a carrot from a radish, and others are farmers who are producing kale and eating that, and are walking every day,” said Summers.
“We want to meet people where they are and work with them so they not only become healthy themselves in the choices that they make, but so they can contribute back into the community.”
Village Gardens and the Village Market are both examples of what can be accomplished when neighborhood residents, non-profits and government come together in support of people’s health and well-being. The project was funded by the Kaiser Permanente Community Fund, among other organizations.