- Tell me a little about Ecotrust and how the Redd on Salmon Street project helps regional food economies.
There’s so much to learn here at Ecotrust. I joined the partner-centric nonprofit organization about six months ago and find myself constantly learning about the 50+ projects we are engaged in. Our projects span the west coast from Alaska to California building toward our vision of an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future. Our work incorporates food systems, fisheries and coastal communities, forestry and ecosystem services, social finance, and green workforce development to name a few. As the Community & Funding Partnerships Manager, I help leverage our diverse community of partners to emphasize our mission.
The Redd on Salmon Street is one of those projects. Divided into two sections: Redd West, a former marble distribution hub and sales center and Redd East, a 1918 ironworks. Restored by local partners Urban Patterns, Walsh Construction Company, Redside, Green Gables and OPSIS Architecture, this two-block, 76,000 square foot campus serves as a regional food hub. A hub that supports and connects over 200 regional food producers, farmers, ranchers and fishermen to advance an equitable, restorative, and delicious regional food system.
- Redd West provides over 20,000 square feet of warehouse space offering cold storage, aggregation, packaging, and distribution services & over 3,000 square feet of kitchen production space. Through Redd West, producers can make one efficient drop rather than dozens all over town. Entrepreneurs can access scale-appropriate services and office space, and direct-to-consumer farmers, ranchers, and fishermen can pack and distribute their CSA and CSF orders with ease.
- Redd East encompasses more than 33,000 square feet of event space, and includes a demonstration kitchen, outdoor plaza, and board room meeting space. Through Redd East, the community can hold meetings, conferences, galas, markets and interactive culinary experiences.
The Redd helps address several community needs such as keeping farms viable, families fed, food waste averted, and connection with community. For example, partnership with New Seasons Market has helped connect customers to local producers with the support of our packaging and distribution partners – Organically Grown Co, B-Line Urban Delivery and Community Co-Pack NW. These partnerships and services support a vibrant community of food entrepreneurs including Carman Ranch, a century-old family ranch focused on building soil and sequestering carbon, while producing exceptional grass-fed beef. These emergent partnerships and services at the Redd are just a few ways this space cultivates an innovative regional food economy.
- How does this project support justice, equity, diversity and inclusion principles?
Nonprofits like Ecotrust who are engaged in over 50 projects have the immense pleasure and privilege of increasing outcomes that are just, equitable, diverse and inclusive (JEDI). We are one of many nonprofit and for-profit organizations making the attempt to fully incorporate these principles and must recognize that we have a long way to go in order to create an impact that truly centers around Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community members.
Today, our work is more intentionally emphasizing projects built for and led by BIPOC community members. For example, the Redd on Salmon Street’s mission is guided by its community nominated Redd Advisory Committee, composed of community partners—83% of whom are BIPOC. This committee supports the campus’ programming, operations, and tenanting.
The Redd’s mission to expand food access, support BIPOC entrepreneurs, and cultivate a shared sense of place is catalyzed by several partners, projects and engagements incorporating JEDI principles including:
- The Institutional Purchasing Pathways project, championed by partner Health Care Without Harm with support from Prosper Portland and Ecotrust, connects small and local BIPOC-owned food businesses to institutional buyers—specifically hospitals. Each business receives a $2,000 stipend and access to services to help scale operations to meet institutional market needs such as business advising and recruitment support from Livelihood Northwest, ordering, aggregation and delivery from B-Line Urban Delivery as well as product development and co-packing from Community Copack NW.
- Local Link is an annual event that connects wholesale institutional food buyers (such as schools and hospitals) and local producers, with a focus on equitable access to good food. Local Link connects wholesale buyers with food entrepreneurs such as farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and prepared food businesses through a day-long vendor fair held at the Redd to develop purchasing relationships. Ecotrust makes an intentional effort to recruit and support BIPOC-owned and women-owned companies to increase access to culturally relevant foods as well as foster a sense of home and belonging across Oregon. The story of how Tortillería y Tienda De León began providing traditional Mexican food to schools throughout Oregon is one outcome of this annual event.
- As part of our ongoing commitment to farm to school, we recently refreshed the Oregon Harvest for Schools Directory, an online directory connecting school food buyers with food producers. This effort incorporated new categories and filters to further increase the number of and ability for school food buyers to search for BIPOC food producers and businesses in Oregon.
Altogether, in 2021 the Redd supported 184 businesses; 36 (20%) BIPOC-owned, and 56 (36%) women-owned. We’re still learning, as an organization, important ways to develop a culture of belonging. Through intentional recruitment efforts, equitable leasing processes, discounted venue rates for partners and a community grant program for nonprofits that center communities of color we are actively exploring this vital work for our regional food economy.
- Why is this work so important, and how is Clover Sonoma supporting this?
The Redd on Salmon Street is a vital project helping our community make measurable progress towards critical goals for our region – broadly-held intergenerational wealth, lands and waters stewardship, and climate resilience that centers the needs of and learnings from frontline communities. Clover Sonoma’s efforts to share our story as well as their recent funding of $40,000 supports and affirms the work we are doing together, especially at the Redd and in other food systems programs.
Partnering with Clover Sonoma, an organization committed to producing quality dairy while honoring family farms, animals, environment and community helps deepen our own commitments and learnings here at Ecotrust. This is especially true at the Redd, a project founded on the belief that:
“creative food producers can work in concert with farmers, ranchers, and fishermen to increase demand for regional food that is produced in a way that regenerates the soil, water, and air, while creating delicious, healthy food that is affordable and accessible to everyone.”
Personally, I think the Redd is an important project to celebrate, because it represents the ways we can reimagine current infrastructure in support of reciprocal relationships and harmonious ways of being in this world. As someone deeply invested in partnership, the Redd is such an exciting project to me because it provides the space needed to cultivate a diverse partner ecosystem that amplifies our vision of an equitable, prosperous, climate-smart future.
I’ve heard many reasons why the Redd is important. This accommodating space has been home to many dreams. It’s provided essential ingredients for growth such as connection, resources, and space. And, much like the food entrepreneurs it attracts, it has nurtured those who enter. So, whether you’re attending a celebratory event like our Indigenous Leadership Awards ceremony or stopping by a market for some delicious regional food, the Redd could hold a special place in your heart too.
Come Thru Market takes place in the Redd on Salmon Street plaza.
Photo by Noah Thomas