Zenger Farm retires its creaky farmhouse for a gleaming $2.3M urban grange

By: Wendy Culverwell - Jul 02, 2015
Source: Portland Business Journal

Established in 1999, Zenger Farms is a 20-acre working farm and educational center at Southeast 117th and Foster Road in outer Southeast Portland. Its mission is to both produce food and to educate students about where food comes from and the importance of making healthy food choices.

The $2.3 million project will allow Zenger Farm to extend its reach to as many as 20,000 students, said Mike Wenrick, a former Medical Teams International executive who signed on as Zenger Farm's executive director in May.

Currently, all fifth graders from David Douglas schools visit Zenger Farm. With the expanded space, Wenrick hopes to expand the popular program to Reynolds and Portland schools.

“We’ve been a bit limited with our space to think beyond David Douglas,” he said.

The new urban grange has classrooms and a commercial kitchen that accommodates summer cooking classes as well as production for Lents International Farmers Market food vendors.

Its commercial farm also provides 80 community supported agriculture or CSA shares, of which 50 are held by families that buy with SNAP benefits, or food stamps.

“That’s one of the programs I’m most proud of,” said Wenrick.

Portland-based DECA Architecture contributed its design services for the new building. Funding was provided by the Portland Development Commission, Bob’s Red Mill, M.J. Murdock Memorial Trust, Meyer Memorial Trust, Bridgetown Natural Foods and New Seasons Market.

Craft3 structured a loan for the project to accommodate the multi-year giving schedules of its contributors. The capital campaign is within about $60,000 of its goal.