Eca-Etabo Wasongolo bends down and picks an amaranth plant that is growing in a Village Gardens’ plot on Sauvie Island. Three families grow the vegetable, along with many other African vegetables, as part of the Village Gardens’ Market Gardener Program.
Designed to support families in launching a small farm business, the Market Gardener Program provides donated land, free water, vegetable starts, tilling support and business training. Wasongolo has been the community organizer at Village Gardens for seven years and, more recently, working with the Market Gardener families to help them launch their small businesses. “Village Gardens helps each family business define their goals and work with them on each step, beginning with planning their garden, preparing the garden beds, harvesting and taking the produce to market,” says Wasongolo.