One of the lovely resident birds.
The Portage Bay Grange on Roosevelt in the University District, is a great place to learn skills, pick up high quality feed, get new chicks and meet great people interested in urban farming.
Here’s an interview with owner and founder Kevin Scott-Vandenberge.
UFH – What path led you to opening the Grange?
My wife-partner Kirsten and I, with her background in human development, and my experience having had several other small business ventures, talked for hours on end about putting our partnership into a more meaningful endeavor together, and what that would ideally look like. We both thought that what is missing in our “frayed” society is rewarding daily experiences. We had chickens already, because we wanted that “layer” of life for our other three children. After two years of some small steps, which included site design, building coops and gardens, and selling feed out of a moving truck, we opened up this store. That has been 4 years now! Around the same time we had a baby, Berkeley, and now being able to reflect, the parallel process of parenting and growing this business has been full of joy and discovery.
Interested in bees? The Grange is your place!
UFH – What do you like most about your business?
This is a tough question to answer, as there are many elements that I like. Personally, we created my dream job! My wife would not necessarily say the same thing. She is the only person really behind the scenes. She has to do all the hard stuff! She does the accounting, the web site, and social media. All of this has taken her from doing her real passion and that’s her music. She is, however, able to do what she does love and that’s raising ‘Bee’ (Berkeley). I love the people and the community that has evolved. I love the team that we work with. I really enjoy the interactions and the conversations that ensue. And this job allows me to be creative and physically active constantly.
Urban farmer clothing comes in a range of colors and sizes.
UFH – What is your biggest success?
Growing a business from the seed of an idea to where we are now is probably the biggest success. In addition to the 4 year-old, we have a 14 year-old daughter Peyton, a 17 year-old son Kellen, and Max who is in his first year in college. When we first started talking about this dream the kids were really skeptical about how it would work out and the location. Over the years they’ve been a huge part of the operations and we’ve watched them take pride in the work they’ve done in growing this family business. I think it’s been really good for them to see this go from an idea to a real business.
I also love seeing people change their philosophy around what life is really about. Gardening, cooking and raising animals brings them back to that enriched daily experience.
Chicks are available now!
UFH – What’s your biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is educating people and making sure our staff is all on the same page with health issues. We all come with our own opinions; and in this business, a great part of knowledge comes from experience. We’re always available with valuable resources to help that process as well.
Beautiful housewares can be found.
UFH – Do you have classes?
We have a great situation with the Portage Bay Café next door and we are able to have classes in a very comfortable spot. Coming soon is our Chick Raising class, our spring Bee Series, and some new fermenting classes too.
UFH – What are some exciting things coming up this year?
We are really excited because we just hired a great operations manager Jessica, and have a fantastic crew, Charlie (who’s our feed manager), Eric, and Meredith. We are getting into some really neat stuff that you don’t see that often:
- We’re moving into more into hydroponics and aquaponics.
- This year we’ll have even more seed varieties and starts.
- We’re also working on an express pick-up so people can text in an order and pull up to the back door to easily pick it up.
- We’re going to keep expanding our feed too. Our local chicken feed is off the charts when it comes to nutrition. 50 pounds is around 28 dollars a bag. We have great organic feeds that come to a little more about 37 dollars with tax. (UFH – This is a great price on high quality feed.)
Come visit the resident ducks and chickens.
Kevin can be reached at kevin@portagebaygrange.