When Chris sat down with Jenny and asked her to dream big about the needs of youth in Estacada, it did not take long for the conversation to veer towards empty spaces and how youth programs could interact with those spaces. Within minutes, the two were brainstorming how to create Harmony's backlot into a community-learning garden. To understand Harmony Bakery and AntFarm's partnership in-depth, one needs to spend time looking at the history of the space.
Jenny Beaudoin of Harmony Bakery and Chris Stanton, AntFarm's Estacada Community Manager
In April 2019, Jenny Beaudoin and Corey Lawrence, her husband, began a discussion with Jenny's aunt about taking over Harmony Bakery. Jenny, born and raised in Estacada, saw Harmony Bakery as more than a business opportunity, but a chance to save a legacy she admired and greatly valued. Harmony Bakery was started by her aunt when she was only three years old. She grew up in and around this space watching the artists work on the mural for the first time and seeing the connections between the bakery and the community. Her father demonstrated the need for outreach as he volunteered and worked for the local Food Bank.
Jenny's values were formed in connection with the services and time around Estacada, and specifically the food in the bakery and the food bank. However, she did not envision herself as a bakery owner. This was her aunt's; Jenny wanted to support social justice and create change in the world. She graduated and worked as a licensed social worker for many years. Within the timeframe of Jenny's aunt considering the sale of Harmony Bakery, Jenny read an article that expanded her paradigm.
The article spoke of a woman that went to Chicago to be a social worker and make huge changes for the people of her city; she herself was from a small town in another state. But after some time the woman realized that she needed to go home to her hometown, that the work she needed to focus on was within her original community.
As the article spoke to Jenny, she discovered a need to come back and work within Estacada as her social focus. She knew that the Bakery could be an avenue for change in Estacada. Food has a way of moving people and gathering people. So, on January 1, 2020, Jen and Corey officially took over the ownership and trajectory of Harmony Bakery. Immediately, Jenny looked to see how she could use this new template to create conversations and bring social needs to the table of Estacada. One such issue was the youth and the opportunities that this town's infrastructure has to offer. Like so many of our stakeholders in Estacada, they saw the same need within the community as AntFarm: youth need something productive to engage in and supportive, encouraging adults to support them within those opportunities.
That is when AntFarm stepped into the picture. Chris, our new Estacada Community Manager, sat down with Jenny and asked her to dream big. With the same passion, they dreamed of how they could take this empty space and shape it into something where a community could flourish.
Chris immediately began working on a community garden design that would integrate the already placed rocks and wood. Jenny offered a shell of a shed to become the tool shed with slats reclaimed from her mural renewal project. Calling farmers for donations of plants, soil, seeds, and other needed items; each step forward enhanced the other person's stoke for the project. The dream started taking root.
With the start of school and the coming of rain, the project will begin to transition into its second stage. AntFarm will begin to cultivate and create the designed garden by using local students from our CommunityConnect Program. Each week students will be invited to come to Harmony Bakery after school on Wednesdays. As the garden takes form and seeds/plants are put into the beds, the process of life and learning will begin.
Come spring, Harmony Community Learning Garden will harvest its produce. Students will have the chance to see it then delivered to the local Estacada Food Bank and the circle of seed to table completed. From June to September, Jenny will be hosting a Farmer's Market within her parking area. During this season, students will be able to learn basic entrepreneurial skills as they harvest and plan to sell the produce within the Farmer's Market right at their garden.
We can't wait to show off this space to you all! Chris and Jenny are all smiles about this partnership and the relationships that will be built and deepened within the time spent in this space. Green spaces are rarer these days within city limits and offer tranquility often not felt in other settings. The work is much, volunteers are needed, but the dream and potential are unlimited. Jenny, as well as many other local businesses and stakeholders, are so excited to see AntFarm enter Estacada, with the services and support it brings, as well as a new community center currently under construction.
Community starts with you. If you are interested in joining our efforts, give us a call, and together we can build a better community!