Vendor Profile: Project Grow

Project Grow is dedicated to enriching the lives of adults with developmental disabilities through art, farming, music, and yoga by creating community awareness about the value of arts, relationship with one’s food source, and promoting integration.

Natasha Wheat, an internationally exhibiting interdisciplinary, socially engaged artist, proposed Project Grow to Port City Developmental Center, a vocational day program in Portland, Oregon, in January of 2009. Project Grow was founded on the principle that adults with developmental disabilities deserve the right to create and share meaningful art, establish a closer relationship with their food source, and lead a physically healthier life. Natasha recruited Tim Donovan and James Ragsdale, to develop the farm, Emese Ilyes and Amanda Milholland, to provide a supportive artistic environment for the participants and advance the curriculum, and Sandy Sampson, to curate exhibitions and inspire individual one on one projects.

Within nine months, Project Grow saw the launch of a micro-CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from its thriving farm, had several gallery exhibitions, practiced yoga weekly with a private instructor, experienced 28 inspiring field trips, and had the privilege of working with 67 dedicated volunteers. The artists and farmers of the program have earned paychecks from art sold, lessons taught, and as recognition of their efforts and contribution to the farm.

As an innovative and progressive program, Project Grow continues to lead a dynamic existence. Today, the North Portland Farm established by Project Grow has plans to develop satellite locations in order to accommodate the demand and offer fair wage to more farmers. The artists who coordinate the programs offered by Project Grow are developing unique ways to continue the successful collaborations between the Project Grow artists and the community at large.


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