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, with the goal of educating and encouraging them in how to format and build their own gardens. The donors hired Verdura Culinary Gardens to help them 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 4′ X 10′ raised beds of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, potatoes, green beans and more. Best of all, BCSI participants took care of maintenance and care of Penelope’s Giving Garden 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, another donated parcel of land was being developed. Within a span of months, we at BCS found ourselves with two separate gardens growing nutritious and organic vegetables, and 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.