Since I moved to Portland, I have been pulling weeds weekly at Zenger Farm. There is some part of me that secretly enjoys weeding—the ability to see clearly that you have accomplished something, the satisfaction of an ache in your arms and sun on your neck, the simultaneous guilt and euphoria at pulling out the roots of some plant that was trying to eke out an existence in the rocky soil.
Zenger Farm was originally a dairy farm, back in the days when there wasn’t much else out in what is now SE Portland. Upon the death of the last Farmer Zenger in the early 1990’s, the City of Portland procured the land in order to preserve the farm and the adjacent wetland as a green space to act as a storm-water collection and filtration area. When the land was later leased by Marc Boucher-Colbert, it became not only a farm, but also a classroom.
In 1999, Friends of Zenger Farm took over and extended the lease, and the farm remains an educational and sustainable farm and wetland, offering summer programs, tours and classes on cooking, beekeeping, chickens, and more. Having tasted the veggies produced on the farm, I can attest to the fact that organic methods and kindness to ladybugs are paying off, as is the dedicated work of the friendly and knowledgeable farm crew and volunteers. What’s more, community members are able to get involved in learning where their food comes from and in meeting their neighbors who also come to the farm!
So it is to Zenger Farm that I come once a week to sit in the sun with a group of other Portlanders, pulling weeds and talking about the weekend’s concert plans. Overlooking the Springwater Corridor, we watch as cyclists pedal by and the swallows swoop behind the old tire swing that hangs just at the edge of the wetland. It’s hard to imagine a better way of spending a Friday afternoon.