Livingscape Nursery Engages Life Indoors and Out

Jennifer Boyer

On a street corner of North Vancouver Avenue in Portland, OR, inhabiting a stately barn-red home, lies Livingscape Nursery. One step through the gate and you are greeted with an abundance of youthful vegetable starts promising, with proper tender loving care, a personal bounty. Inside the perfectly creaky screen door Kava, the resident greeter dog, lifts her head in acknowledgement while continuing to rest underneath a rotating stand of seed packets. Within the store are stacks of glistening Bell jars, Bumble bee emblazoned galoshes, all of the implements and accoutrements for creating and preserving your own homegrown sustenance. For the average customer, Livingscape is akin to an old fashioned community store. From the aisles of alphabetical fruit trees, to the excited chirps of the heritage chick hatchery and the buzz of prodigious bee hives, Livingscape offers a glimpse of a connected, engaged business, and life.

Steve Adamson, the proprietor of Livingscape, embodies the ethic of his business, which he calls “engaged living.” For Steve, engaged living means combining, supporting and creating—in no particular order, nor hierarchy—community, food, families, friends and nature. Steve's passion for this ethic of engagement is apparent in every interaction with visitors. He and his devoted staff want to move beyond the model of simply being a sustainable business; they want progress from the practice of just putting back in what one takes out, to something more.

In this way, the beauty of Livingscape lies in its multiple facets. Not only is Livingscape a nursery and, with a grand new expansion, an outdoor store, it is also an incubator for education through classes. The desire to empower is evident through the bevy of courses taught at Livingscape—from preservation to urban chicken tending to bee keeping. These classes teach urban dwellers the skills which were once passed down generationally, before our culture shifted from cultivation to microwaves, and from tending to take-out. With the addition of outdoor gear for both children and adults, the store is poised to encourage a wide range of outdoor activities, both escapades into forested environments, and nurturing native plants at home. The Livingscape model is a truly multi-dimensional business, promoting the bliss of the unwalled.

Livingscape is unique in that it is much more than a purveyor of goods: it is a participant in the surrounding community. So fundamental is the community element to the Livingscape engaged ethic, that the business partners with two neighborhood schools to promote education and empowerment. The intent of this connection is to educate children about food, from seed to edible. Showcasing where food comes from, and connecting with future generations, is an important facet of the Livingscape outreach effort. For Steve, partnering with neighboring schools, where nurture and education are the shared goals, is a natural progression. This neighborhood nursery is a fundamental element of a productive, engaged community.