The non-profit youth farm has two major projects planned for the coming years.

TIMES PHOTO: BLAIR STENVICK - Katrin Dougherty points toward the crops at the Supa Fresh Youth Farm's main site in Tigard.

Monday saw gray skies and intermittent rain in Tigard, rendering the "water me please" signs scattered throughout the kale, carrots, sunflowers and other crops of Supa Fresh Youth Farm redundant.

Inside the offices of Oregon Human Development Corporation's YouthSource, the local nonprofit that operates Supa Fresh, Katrin Dougherty kept busy looking over long-term plans. Dougherty co-founded Supa Fresh in 2008, and now is the program director for Supa Fresh and YouthSource.

Late in the summer, Dougherty and her colleagues at YouthSource got word that they been re-funded for the next five years. That means five more years of giving young people the chance to learn important workforce skills through running the farm, and five more years of operating community gardens in the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

"There's always that five-year renewal process, and our fingers are crossed," said Dougherty. "And we were successful and got our funding, and we're very excited."

The organization's main source of funding comes from Worksystems Inc., a Portland non-profit that distributes funding for workforce development in the greater Portland area. Worksystems, Inc. disperses funds that come from the federal Department of Labor, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

"This is not the only grant that we've applied for and gotten, but it is our main source of funding, so we're very happy to have it renewed," Dougherty said.

Now that the funding is officially renewed, Dougherty can look forward to two big plans on the horizon for Supa Fresh.

The first is collaboration with the Tigard-Tualatin School District on Metzger School Park. The district and the city of Tigard are teaming up to transform Metzger Elementary School's field into a public park, and Supa Fresh will provide volunteers and maintain a small gardening space in the park.

"We're working together with them on building this park," Dougherty said. "We're putting in several raised beds where the youth will work."

Supa Fresh's second upcoming major project is the plan to build a farm on the new Durham Education Center. The Durham Center serves as the district's source for alternative education opportunities, and it will soon get a new wing, administrative office and "MakerSpace" as part of the district's 2016 bond measure projects.

In addition to its main farm at the YouthSource center, Supa Fresh already operates small farms at Metzger and Durham Elementary Schools.

"That's going to have a farm space available, so we will be able to have a fourth garden," Dougherty said about the Durham Education Center. "That's really exciting, because that school will be built using all sorts of green technology, and then of course adding the farm element is really cool because we get to help from scratch."

"Hopefully we'll be breaking ground really soon," added Mia Bartlett, co-founder of Supa Fresh and current dropout prevention coordinator with the district. "That's exciting because it's a place where a lot of alternative ed(ucation) students will be able to experience programs like the youth farm, where they'll be able to work outdoors."

As Supa Fresh approaches its 10th year in operation, Dougherty said that the farm's first round of student workers now have careers and families of their own — but that doesn't keep them from visiting Supa Fresh from time to time.

"Our kids just keep coming back, because they're a sense of community and a sense of family that's built here."

Blair Stenvick
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