Plucking produce from your own yard is great in theory. But for some, theory isn’t easily translated into practice. And for good reason—planning a garden takes know-how, space, some visual sense, time, money, and some bending over. Some are gifted with all of the above, some are not. If you’re one of the latter, fear not, an edible garden is still within reach. Enter PDX.FARM, Foster-Powell’s do-it-yourself backyard-CSA brought to you by your neighbors, Michael Roe and Dan Campbell. With the aid of Michael and Dan, you’ll get the right soil mix, garden beds built, and veggies growing in no time—all you have to do is pluck the produce when it’s ready. Get to know them and their growing (no pun intended) business, pdx.farm.
1) First off, let us introduce the guys behind pdx.farm. Without copying the bios on your website, who are you?
Michael- Though my wife and I have chosen FoPo as the place to bring up our kids, originally I am from Gisborne, New Zealand, and my wife Amanda is from West Virginia. During the transient travels that luckily led me here, I never had my roots on the right ground long enough to grow a garden…. Now we (this includes our 2 children) have been in the hood for 8 years we’ve had the ability to turn over ground and build gardens to grow food. I am also a Photographer and Registered Nurse, but growing food is such a pleasure. Little story if I may….last summer early one morning I could not find my son Harold in the house, but did locate him between the raised beds in our backyard. Upon asking him what he was doing, he pulled up a cucumber he had just picked, took a bite, and looked at me and said “having breakfast!”
Dan- I’m from Bainbridge Island, WA, but was raised on a fishing boat in SE Alaska. While working on my college’s farm I found the coolest lady in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since then we have traveled the world while working on organic farms throughout. We moved to FoPo over five years ago, where we are now raising two awesome kiddos. In addition to PDX.FARM, I run my own sustainable landscape maintenance business with most of my clients in FoPo. I’m dedicated to making this neighborhood a wonderful place to live (as a resident and as the neighborhood association’s transportation chair) and I continue to be in awe of all the wonderful people that are part of this community.
3) Ok, that wasn’t fair. What is pdx.farm and how did it come together?
As our families have grown up together in FoPo, so too has our friendship and our love of gardening. We value providing food for our families and want our kids to eat fresh off the vine. Over this time, it became obvious to us how much fresh food people could produce for themselves regardless the size of their yards. PDX.FARM comes from us wanting to put our joint skills, knowledge & experience together to provide a service that will enable people to grow their own food like we do.
4) I know you guys are interested in creating edible gardens, but it seems like sustainability and building a strong community is part of your goal, too. Can you speak to that?
Teaching people how to grow food is a priority because it helps empower people to become self-sufficient and will help people cut down their grocery bill. In addition, using sustainable lumber like juniper is something we also encourage when we build raised beds. Foster-Powell, like many neighborhoods in Portland, has little access to healthy food, but by creating edible gardens in people’s yards it increases the access to healthy options, as well as building a stronger community.
5) For a lot of us, creating an edible garden can seem overwhelming. That’s where your expertise comes in. For someone who’d like pdx.farm to turn their yards into something that can produce food, give us an idea of what and how much can be grown in a confined space—say, one 4 x 6 bed.
It depends a lot on location and sun. With good sun we can grow three tomato plants, onions and basil through the summer in one 4×6 bed. And the cool thing about the mild winters we’re having is that we can grow greens throughout the fall and winter in that same bed. With understanding of how different veggies grow you can pack in a lot of food through companion planting and planting in succession. PDX.FARM likes to grow food for our clients, but we also teach people who want to learn how to grow food so they can become self-sufficient
6) Obviously you like to garden, but what else can Dan and Mike be found doing in and around the neighborhood?
Mike- Growing lots of starts in our greenhouse to give to local schools’ plant sales and to give to neighbors to encourage growing food.
I almost always have my camera on me, so I take lots of pictures of those things that catch my eye. I like to support local businesses when possible, and on the odd occasion I work at my favorite local watering hole, N.W.I.P.A.
Especially during the Spring to Fall months, our front yard becomes a kid magnet, which is something we love as a family
Dan- You can find Dan chasing his kids around the hood, hanging out with the wonderful people in FoPo, and always at the Neighborhood Association meetings.
7) When you’re digging and hammering away, what’s playing on your walkman—I mean boombox…er, iPod?
Mike- Depends entirely on my mood and what I am doing….such a variety…Macklemore to REM to Rage Against the Machine to Led Zeppelin to Indigo Girls to Fat Fredy’s Drop to Michael Franti to Bob’s to ….. Recently I did listen to my first ever audio book while in the garden and it was GOOD…. “The Martian” by Andy Weir …funny. Mostly I like to listen to positive stuff so as to have that good association with my garden.
Dan- Waylon Jennings, Hurray for the Riff Raffs, Cave Singers, Macklemore, John Hiatt
Much thanks to Dan and Michael for sharing. Remember, y’all, this is a local business ran sustainably by your neighbors. If you’re interested in connecting with Dan, Michael, and pdx.farm, you can call for a free estimate at 503-459-8125; or email at email@example.com