All Sustainability History Project Oral Histories


Rodney Bender

Streaming Media

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16 minutes


Urban agriculture, Sustainable agriculture -- Oregon -- Portland


Interview of Rodney Bender by Sarah Roecker at Growing Gardens Portland, Oregon on July 29th, 2009.

The interview index is available for download.


Rodney Bender, the Garden Programs Manager for Growing Gardens, was awarded the 2006 Skidmore Prize for Community from Willamette Week. The prize recognizes young people working to make the region a great place through non-profit organizations. Growing Gardens began in 1996, and works to help low-income Portlanders. Growing Gardens supplies free seeds, plants and tools, and backs assigns a mentor to each family, to ensure success.


Rodney Bender is programs manager at Growing Gardens in NE Portland. The organization helps families build vegetable gardens each Spring and Fall. Rodney works primarily in administration, as well as coordinating volunteers. In 2008 there were 174 families involved, with over 800 volunteers that took part in building and planting gardens. The program’s challenges include fundraising, obtaining supplies, and keeping up with participant demand. Growing Gardens also provides city-funded lead testing of soil for member families and those who meet income requirements. They have collaborated with other nonprofits such as the Oregon Food Bank and Portland Fruit Tree project.

This interview is part of “The Sustainability History Project: Documenting Sustainable Development and Practice in the Pacific Northwest” at Portland State University.


This digital access copy is made available as streaming media for personal, educational, and non-commercial use within the parameters of “fair use” as defined under U.S. Copyright law. It cannot be reproduced, distributed, or broadcasted for commercial purposes. For more information, please contact Special Collections at Portland State University Library at: or (503) 725-9883.

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