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Brentwood-Darlington's 'Learning Garden Laboratory' is offering the community what it grows, in a new way

DAVID F. ASHTON - Here, ready to deliver harvest share boxes, is PSU Leadership for Sustainability Program student Shevawn Armstrong - who is also the Events and Fundraising Coordinator at Learning Garden Laboratory (LGL). Those driving past the Portland State University (PSU) Learning Garden Laboratory (LGL) site – on S.E. 60th Avenue, across the street from Lane Middle School, in the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood – may have noticed something is missing this summer: The LGL Farm Stand.

Their fields are filled with crops that look as if they're growing well, agreed LGL Manager Lukas Maurer – and, she assured, they are still offering freshly-harvested produce for sale. But, in a new way.

"It's another Thursday, and we're preparing to distribute this week's 'harvest share' to those who purchased them online, earlier this week," Maurer explained to THE BEE on July 7. "Instead of having our weekly LGL roadside farm stand, because of COVID-19 coronavirus concerns, we're now offering 'harvest share' boxes, which also allow us to 'curate' what we are sharing with folks."

Unlike Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares, where people sign up for a locked-in subscription for an entire season's worth of produce, "We're offering something more like a 'short-order CSA', which invites people to make a week-by-week purchase," Maurer said.

The "sales window" on the EventBrite website runs from Monday at 5 p.m. through Wednesday at 5 p.m. each week. Then, on Thursday, Learning Garden Laboratory workers harvest and then pack vegetables for those who signed up to come by and pick up that evening.

"A 'harvest share' is a gathering of whatever is growing in the garden that is ready to pick, and includes well-known garden produce, as well as some unusual edibles from the garden," remarked Maurer. "We have an experiential educational mission at LGL – so we are, in effect, inviting people to try out different types of produce which they might not be familiar with, and then tell them how to prepare and serve it!"

Right now, they're serving about a dozen "harvest share" boxes each week, but they expect demand to top out at about twice that number as the growing season goes on, and as more people learn about the program – which runs through October.

"We appreciate the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association, which sponsored boxes in our first month," acknowledged Maurer.

Each $25.00 "harvest share' includes include a selection of veggies and herbs (with occasional fruits or flowers), grown and harvested with love by the PSU students. Proceeds from the program support their sharing the abundance of produce with the PSU Food Pantry and Woodmere Food Pantry as well.

To sign up, go online – www.eventbrite.com/o/learning-gardens-laboratory-28081025775


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