We Reap What We Sow

Participants (and their children 10 or older) have the opportunity to learn hands-on the vegetable gardening cycles and processes task by task, from season to season and are encouraged to begin their own family gardens as a practice. Our green thumb has inspired others to take up gardening as noted in Sunset Magazine July 2011 and The Oregonian March 2012. We reap what we sow. The yield harvested from these gardens are then available on shopping days for the participating families.

We’d like to especially thank the participants and donors who have opened up their property for this use over the years. Thank you!

Garden Volunteering

Would you like to do your BCS volunteering in a beautiful garden and learn how to grow your own produce? Learn more on our Volunteer Page.

"Had it not been for the time we spent volunteering, we may have never had the confidence to start our own garden." - Adrienne

Birch Gardens to Home Gardens

“While on the Birch Program, we enjoyed our summer volunteer hours in the community garden so much that now we have raised garden beds in our yard. Had it not been for the time we spent volunteering, we may have never had the confidence to start our own little garden.” – Adrienne

“Before I participated, I found gardening very discouraging. I never had someone to teach me the basics and I found it difficult to discern and use information from books or websites. But once I learned some basics at the BCS gardens – from the manager and from other experienced participants around me -then I could use other resources which opened a world of options to me. Now I have my own garden with strawberries, tomatoes, and apples. Additionally, being able to keep my own outdoor space beautiful has nourished my soul and has been a great way to connect with my kids. The BCS garden is really a mentoring program and, in my view, we could all use more mentoring in our lives!” – Ashley

Gardening Lessons:

  • Gardening/Seed Sowing
  • Fruits for Home Gardens
  • DIY  Strawberry Boxes
  • Summer/Mid-Season Gardening
  • Companion Planting 
  • Vegetables and Herbs

Our Garden

Sunderland Garden (2012-TODAY!)

This beautiful hillside garden is located near the BCS warehouse in Gresham, Oregon. The predominantly culinary garden is planted, maintained, and harvested by BCS volunteers with a common interest in learning sustainability through growing their own food.

Our Past Gardens

Baker Garden (2012-2018)

Casey and Angela Baker, participants with Birch Community Services, decided they wanted to assist people in learning how to garden while providing fresh garden produce to BCS families.

They had been planning on turning their city lot into a sustainable garden using permaculture gardening methods. They decided to share this experience as a living, learning lab with other participants at BCS — and the BCS Baker Garden was born.

Penelope's Garden (2009)

Penelope’s Giving Garden was the original Birch Teaching Garden. In spring of 2009, BCS was offered the opportunity to benefit from a vegetable garden specifically installed for our participants. After rescuing a malnourished toddler from poverty, a local family was inspired to help hungry households in their own community. The goal of Penelope’s Garden was always educating and encouraging Birch families on how to format and build their own gardens. Verdura Culinary Gardens helped develop and install a sustainable organic vegetable garden, utilizing participant volunteers to help with the tasks of soil prep, construction of raised bed boxes, and planting. In May of 2009, Penelope’s Giving Garden was born. 

The garden, established on unused land of the donor’s back, front, and side yards of their home, hosted fifteen raised beds of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, green beans and more. BCS participants took care of maintenance, which helped provide hands-on learning about sustainable organic gardening, under the direction of Caroline and Larry Lewis of Verdura. “They didn’t just give us a plot,” says Suzanne Birch, “they gave us a whole garden and then showed us how to build it and maintain it.” The family hopes that others would also see the benefit of contributing unused land for garden development. “We hope that others will join us in growing gardens and sharing their harvests so that Portland will become known as the city that eliminated hunger from their community — one garden at a time,” they said. It’s community helping community. That vision is catching on. Verdura was contacted by another client who wanted to do the same thing. Verdura told them about BCS and soon, Riverbend Garden was developed.
Within a span of months, we at BCS found ourselves with two separate gardens growing nutritious and organic vegetables along with exciting new opportunities for our participants. Unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, our generous donors were not able to continue to provide the property that hosted Penelope’s Giving Garden after the initial 2009 season. However, we are eternally grateful for the jump-start into a whole new avenue of service to our families that this encounter provided. The BCS Teaching Garden may never have happened without the enlightening experience of Penelope’s Garden.

Riverbend Garden (2009-2011)

Riverbend Organic Gardens began development in June of 2009. Verdura Culinary Gardens, the same folks who helped donors develop Penelope’s Giving Garden, was approached again by a generous family who wanted to help give back to the community. BCS once more received an opportunity to grow a sustainable organic vegetable garden for our participants.

Twenty raised beds on a 2,025 square foot plot of land were installed by Verdura with assistance from BCS volunteers, under the supervision and expertise of Caroline and Larry Lewis. This partnership perfectly fulfilled what BCS strives to create; we are focused on the importance of teaching our families new skills that will encourage and enrich their lives.

Located in West Linn near the banks of the Tualatin, Riverbend Organic Gardens were cared for and harvested in good part by the volunteer efforts of BCS. Verdura, who was hired by the anonymous donor, was generous to share their knowledge with eager participants who readily stepped up to help out with the garden. “I’m so excited about the opportunity to create something of real beauty and lasting value to help make a long-term difference to hungry people,” said the property owner.

This wonderful gift has expanded the BCS vision and given new and exciting opportunities to our working families.