Portland, OR. Focus on Youth is a nonprofit combining sustainable gardening and photography with hands-on learning. Homeless and at-risk youth learn leadership, responsibility, gardening, healthy eating, and photography as they “grow their own food” and photograph their achievements at Sunflower Organic Farm. The nonprofit grows and donates produce to local food pantries serving children and families to help alleviate community hunger.

Currently, Focus on Youth is operating a flower stand to raise needed funds. It’s located at 5901 SW Garden Home Road, Portland, OR 97219. The flower stand is open Saturday and Sunday, 8 am to noon. It’s selling small flower bouquets for $10 and large for $20.

By raising money, it is able to purchase essential equipment/supplies for the farm and expand to grow more produce. According to the advocates, “Covid-19 is putting thousands of people in our community at risk for food insecurity and as a result, making them vulnerable to malnutrition and serious illness. Closure of restaurants has reduced food donations to shelters and Food Pantries exactly when the need for food donations has increased.”

You can visit the flower stand any time because it has an ‘honesty box’, so supporters can purchase bouquets when flower stand volunteers aren’t present. Focus on Youth accepts both cash and digital payment for flowers.

The mission of Focus on Youth is to nurture creativity, promote self-esteem, cultivate leadership, foster independence, encourage success, and profoundly transform the lives of homeless and at-risk youth.

Participants take away positive experiences, food, pictures of what they have achieved, and a wealth of knowledge about sustainable gardening.

Volunteers man the flower stand.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, volunteers have spread 114 tons of organic compost and tripled the size of our garden with the help of our volunteers.

Focus on Youth works in partnership with youth shelters and Neighborhood House to put food on the tables of vulnerable community members.

Here’s a flyer with more info on the flower stand:

Below is a video about the program:

From Focus on Youth:

Our greatest need is for volunteers to help in our garden. Sunflower Farm is conveniently located on a one-acre parcel in Southwest Portland.  If you would like to lend a hand with harvesting, planting, weeding, or mulching garden pathways please fill out the volunteer form (http://tiny.cc/Foy) or call/text 503-341-6878. We are open seven days a week and provide gloves and tools. No gardening experience is needed, we will teach you how to grow healthy, delicious organic fruit and vegetables.

You can also help by donating on our website using PayPal or through the Givebutter platform, (givebutter.com/foy). Thank you!

Don’t forget to support Focus on Youth this summer! Select Focus on Youth via Amazon Smile to turn a percentage of your purchases into a donation.

Since 2003, Focus on Youth has provided hands-on learning, sustainable gardening, healthy cooking classes, science and photography classes, and mentoring for over 16,000 at-risk and homeless youth. Hunger in Oregon has spiked 18% in the last two years, and one in five homeless youth report going hungry each week. Our program, Seeds of Hope is decreasing food insecurity and improving nutrition for homeless youth by teaching them where food comes from, how to grow food through hands-on activities, and the importance of eating fresh produce.

Our students grew over a ton of organic fruit and vegetables, plus they donated thousands of pounds of produce to low-income seniors through the Neighborhood House food pantry. Seeds of Hope connects youth with nature and the joy of growing their own food while giving them the ability to take on leadership roles within the community by donating food to help low-income seniors and families.

Focus on Youth is fostering community building through our partnerships with nonprofits such as New Avenues for Youth, Outside In, Neighborhood House, Community Legacy Program of Our United Villages, Hands-on Portland, Portland Service Program, and hundreds of community volunteers.