A Green Life

Urban entrepreneurship

New market creates connections between backyard growers and buyers

story + photos by mary preiser potts

Urban Growers Market
Second Fridays (next one Friday June 10!
2315 Main St., Vancouver
(One World Merchants parking lot)


Embarking on its first year, the Urban Growers Market is an evolution of Craft in the Village, started in 2009 by Chris Stevens of NW Shirts and Liz Halili of One World Merchants. The new market brings together a mix of backyard growers, small farmers and food artisans, as well as artists and crafters. It features a co-op table run by Urban Abundance, a barter table where backyard farmers can swap produce, and a table where fresh eggs and plant starts are offered by Posey Patch.

You may even see a table of budding child gardeners trade and sell their own fresh produce.

A swift outpouring of support got the market off the ground. In just a few days, a Kickstarter campaign raised money for permits and fees. Sponsorships from local businesses followed. Other fundraisers included the Vancouver Vixen (skateboard) Benefit Race sponsored by NW Shirts, as well as a silent auction and concert at the Brickhouse organized by Anni Becker.

“The Urban Growers Market has been fully funded by the community, 100 percent,” Halili said.

The local food movement in Vancouver is already strong. As the UGM founders see it, the more options there are for buying local, the better, especially as people become increasingly concerned about their food sources. This is evidenced by the proliferation of community-supported agriculture farms and farmers markets in recent years.

“All of the neighborhoods around here are very interested in buying local. It’s just giving them another option for a local, community, family event,” said Sunrise O’Mahoney, a co-founder of the Urban Growers Market, alongside Halili and Stevens.

Bigger than the sum of its parts, the market aims to serve as a community gathering place. In a city with low walkability in many areas, the founders hope to provide people with a reason to get outside, walk around and get to know their neighbors.

“This is just something that oil has done away with. People don’t know their neighbors…. I would just like for people to see how closely tied we are,” Stevens said.

A backyard grower and mother of three, Erica Barnes-Davis sells produce via the Urban Abundance co-op table. She thought participating in the market would be a good way to educate her children about where their food comes from.

“It’s so hard for kids to know about seasons for foods,” she said, “since we can get anything anytime from some part of the world.”

Plant flowers at Propstra Square

The Parks Foundation is recruiting volunteers to help plant the large planters and flowerbeds in and around Propstra Square, at Esther Short Park on Saturday, May 14. The planting will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to be completed by 11 a.m. Event sponsor Hilton Vancouver Washington will provide refreshments for volunteers both before and after the planting.  

Volunteers must preregister through the Parks Foundation office by Thursday, May 12, arrive at Propstra Square no later than 8:45 the morning of May 14 to sign volunteer forms, and should bring their own small gardening trowel. Please contact the Parks Foundation office at 360-487-8370 or email Cheri Martin to preregister. For more information, please see event flyer.

Flowers and plants for the 2011 planting were funded through Parks Foundation Propstra Square Memorial Brick sales. To help support future plantings, please consider purchasing a Memorial Brick.  

A Green Thing:Reusable snack and sandwich bags

BugBaby Designs



Made in Washougal, these reusable snack and sandwich bags by BugBaby Designs are totally adorable and totally practical at the same time. The snack bags are the perfect size for a fat single serving, and the sandwich bags even fit a double decker. The bags are made with a 100 percent cotton print lined with waterproof polyurethane-lined knit, which keeps the outside of the bag clean and dry, and your sandwich or snack fresh. The flap closure is secured with Velcro. With these cutie-pie sacks, it’s almost fun to pack a lunch. Handmade Moses baskets are also available from BugBaby Designs, as well as custom bedding.

Affordable, healthy homes

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Econstruction NW aspires to build houses real people can feel good about

Story by Mary Preiser Potts

Econstruction NW owner Richard Haig has been involved in green construction for 30 years. He lived in Santa Cruz during the 1970s gas crunch when energy efficient housing made its debut. It was there that he got his start in passive solar construction. A Pacific Northwest native, Haig eventually returned and four years ago Econstruction NW was born.

Because green building is often associated with exorbitant prices, Haig hopes to expose people to the concept that affordable, energy efficient and healthier homes are within reach. For Econstruction NW, this also means building smaller homes under 2,000 square feet.

“We’re not building ‘McMansions,’” Haig said.

Many of Haig’s new houses implement SIPs technology. SIPs, or Structural Insulated Panels, are made of two OSB (oriented strand board) panels sandwiched around a layer of expanded polystyrene and are used in place of lumber.

SIPs have been on the market for 40 years, but their popularity is largely overshadowed by the higher cost. While it’s true that SIPs construction adds about 10 percent more to the cost of materials, according to Haig, it actually saves on labor costs because the oversized panels are so easy to install.

An advantage of using SIPs over lumber is that they are more air-tight and energy efficient, eliminating the thermal breaks that typically occur at the wall studs of a house. There is also less material waste because SIPs are custom-made in a factory to specifications.

Because interior air quality becomes a factor when creating airtight housing envelopes, SIPs houses built by Econstruction NW are equipped with a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV). The HRV unit swaps indoor air for fresh, outside air while retaining the indoor air temperature. The unit also keeps the relative indoor humidity around 50 percent, thus inhibiting the growth of molds, mites and other indoor polluters.

SIPs designer, Patrick Sughrue of Structures NW in Vancouver, says that HRVs are a standard part of the building envelope packages he provides for green builders like Econstruction NW.

Because of the health and environmental hazards of fiberglass, some insulation alternatives used by Econstruction NW are rockwool, denim batt and sprayed foam insulations. Rockwool is made from minerals, heated to extreme temperatures, then spun like cotton candy to form a mass of fibers. Haig uses rockwool as a sound barrier for interior walls. Denim bat insulation is made from recycled materials, usually jeans, and provides a sound and heat barrier for both interior and exterior walls. Floors are insulated with sprayed closed cell foam insulation, which is noted for its superior insulating properties as well as the interior air quality it affords.

In addition to new housing, Econstruction NW also specializes in energy retrofits and remodeling. Haig focuses on his goal of creating healthier homes by using reclaimed and formaldehyde-free wood, as well as chemical-free carpeting and tile, and buying materials locally when possible.

Econstruction NW


Richard Haig, owner



Ghosts, goblins, ghouls and green

Vancouver Green Drinks’ second annual Halloween party is coming up on Friday Oct. 29 at Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 5000 E. Fourth Plain Blvd. It starts at 6:30 p.m., and you could win a prize for best costume! Green Drinks meets the second Tuesday of every month at a different location, with brief introductions starting at 6 p.m. Email vancouvergreendrinks@gmail.com for more info.

Remember, ghouls are green, too!


Coop du Jour: tomorrow!!!

(This post is taken from the beautiful and well written Coop du Jour website.)

The inaugural uptown tour of chicken coops in downtown Vancouver neighborhoods, organized by community members that believe in the positive impact local sustainable food sources have on our health, community, and environment, is an opportunity for participants to gain valuable insight and inspiration from experienced coop owners.

The first ever self-guided tour of urban poultry coops in the downtown Vancouver area is set to kick off Saturday afternoon on the 17th of July from 12 to 4 p.m. (more…)

Salmon Creek Farmers Market is looking for you!

05.16.2010 The newly formed Salmon Creek Farmers Market will locate behind the Three Creeks Library next to the Fred Meyer on 139th St. The market plans to open July 15 and run through Sept. 30 every Thursday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Currently the group is looking for farmers, producers, artisans and entertainers. There is also an immediate need for volunteers for planning and sponsorship.

For more information on becoming a vendor, visit www.managemymarket.com. For information on volunteering, send an email to info@salmoncreekfarmersmarket.com or call Ann Foster at 360-574-5093.

More awesome veggie opps — woo!


Get your plot at 78th St.

Folks who want to plant and tend a garden at Clark County’s 78th Street/WSU property can submit their names to a lottery which will determine gardeners for dozens of available plots.

To enter the lottery, submit contact information to Sunrise O’Mahoney at 360-397-2370 or sunrise.omahoney@clark.wa.gov between Feb. 20 and March 5 at 5 p.m. The drawing will be held March 8. Winners will be notified by March 11.

People whose names are drawn will be given a 20-foot by 20-foot plot. Cost is $40, although some scholarships are available. No pesticides or herbicides may be used. The garden plots will be available from April to October. One plot per person or household. ADA-accessible plots are available.

For more information, go to www.clark.wa.gov/78wsu and click on “Projects and Workshops” on the left.

Grow there today-


Discuss food garden options at county/city parks

The public is invited to a community forum to hear about the changes in the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department Community Garden Program, and discuss local food garden options.
The forum is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 12, at Luepke Center Community Room, 1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd. Parks and Rec reps will present some upcoming changes to the community garden program as well as discuss a new option: food gardens in neighborhood parks.
When the department participated in a multi-agency public forum in April 2009, along with Clark County Health Department, some critical needs were identified around creating more food garden options, including more garden space and better access to education about gardening. To discuss these issues, the forum’s speakers include staff from the new Clark County Public Health Growing Groceries Mentor Program as well as the citizens who started the Rose Village Community Garden.

More information about the Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation Department community and food garden program is available online. Click on Community Gardens under Facilities & Locations.

Sounds delicious-


Celebrate Fall Harvest with Vancouver Food Co-op

The Vancouver Food Co-op is celebrating the Fall Harvest on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Vancouver Marketplace on Columbia and Evergreen. The event will be catered by Woody’s Tacos, featuring appetizers and desserts made from ingredients grown by local farms (and you can bet when the VFC is doing it, that’s LOCAL farms, not the tri-state area).

The Co-op will be unveiling its new logo, designed by Vancouver’s Tribe2 Graphic Design and Creative Services, the same folks responsible for the Turtle Place mural, and talking about store opening plans. Bluegrass band The Grey Sky Boys will play.

The event is FREE, so don’t miss it. My only regret is posting this so late!


Grow the YWCA Community Garden

A reminder from my e-pal Glenn Grossman — thanks Glenn!

There are only 15 days left in the Umpqua Bank Click 4A Cause contest and the YWCA Community Garden project has fallen from a commanding lead to trailing by over 1000 points. If they win this contest, they’ll get $15,000 to devote to their project and they need your help TODAY. You can vote once per week, so that means you still have time to get a couple of votes in. Please click on the link, cast your vote, and help the fantastic folks at the YWCA win some serious money to help them with their community garden project!

I voted today! Woot!


Hello, August!

Craft in the Village

08.07.09 What isn’t happening this weekend?

Vancouver’s downtown art galleries are on board for Art in the Heart II, which will take place tonight from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Main Street and west to Art on the Boulevard. Artists will be out on the street along with food vendors. Of course, Craft in the Village is still going strong and takes place higher on Main Street, and Camas Live!, a first Friday art and live performance event, is set for tonight from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

And then on Sunday, the Naturally Beautiful Backyards Earth Friendly Garden Tour is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This self guided tour takes an inside look at six naturally beautiful backyards in Vancouver and Camas.

So…get out!


Local food film festival this weekend

Coneflowers by Todd Gunderson

Coneflowers by Todd Gunderson

7.13.09 Oh, this sounds so great. Clark County is hosting a local food film festival (click for all the details) at Washington State University Vancouver on Friday, July 17, and at the County Public Service Building on Saturday, July 18. The films Good Food and Growing Awareness will be shown along with a sneak preview of Ingredients. The event is sponsored by the Clark County Food System Council.

Good things are growing locally…

Enjoy the harvest-


Recycled Arts Festival, Woodland Farmers Market

06.25.09 Get up and go this weekend, y’all, two great events are at hand.

The annual Recycled Arts Festival is in Esther Short Park on Friday and Saturday June 27 and 28 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The year, the festival is featuring 70 vendors and great music like the Pete Krebs Trio and Trashcan Joe. Tons of educational vendors will be set up as well as the ever-popular Tossed and Found tent full of free stuff. This is one of my favorite DT events. Like I do, go to the Farmers Market (even though it’s promoting blueberries from Hermiston on its front page, sigh) and pop over to the RAF.

Also, the Woodland Farmers Market opens for the season this weekend — its first season ever. The market will run on Fridays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. until Oct. 2. The market is opening with 20 farm, food and arts vendors at 100 Davidson Ave., next to Horseshoe Lake.

Ah, it’s finally summer….



Summer Solstice Garden Tour

A Garden Delights Sunflower

A Garden Delights Sunflower

06.17.09 Three farms in Brush Prairie will open for visitors on Saturday, June 20, to celebrate the summer solstice with the public. Garden Delights CSA and Herb Farm is located at 15417 N.E. Parkinen Road, Half Moon Farm is a 14737 N.E. 159th St., and Scented Acres Lavender is at 13804 N.E. 117th Ave. Each farm will have specialty items for sale and demonstrations for visitors.

Don’t miss this sweet opportunity-


Friends of Trees Westside planting


Fun in the rain on Saturday: I planted ten trees with Friends of Trees, for a total of 40 in the Lincoln neighborhood and 140 in seven neighborhoods total. Champion neighborhood liaison Cynthia Thornton-Tang wrote a grant which enabled Lincoln residents to get one or two trees at a deep discount and then in teams, we planted them.
It’s so fun to see all the Friends of Trees stickers swinging from newly planted trees throughout the Westside. If you ever get a chance to do this, do not pass it up!

Fourth Plain parks granted kids program

Has it been a week since my last post? Really, I am the worst. But I did have some technical difficulties….

Anyway, I thought this was cool.

The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington will award Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation $15,000 to fund year two of a 7-week summer program for children, teens and families in an under served area along the Fourth Plain Corridor. The grant will support a 5-day-per-week summer playground program at Evergreen Park (Fourth Plain and Rossiter Ave.) for elementary age youth, and weekly special events for teens and families at Water Works Park (Fourth Plain and Fort Vancouver Way).

Both Evergreen and Water Works parks have seen increased gang and drug activity over the past few years.

In 2008 several programs were offered for seven weeks beginning the week of June 30. Total combined attendance exceeded 1,000. Plus, a USDA grant allows for all who attend both daytime programs to be served a free lunch.

And, apparently, a comparison of July 2007 and July 2008 statistics showed a 25% reduction in police calls to Evergreen Park.

Hooray city of Vancouver-