Luscher Farm vote raises questions
- Kathy Keller-Jones
- Lake Oswego Review - Opinion
I sit here gazing at my ballot and wondering about my city's plans to change zoning in order to place an artificial turf soccer field on beautiful Luscher farm. I have so many unanswered questions: Why would the city consider building this field on historic Luscher farm, rather than examining more centrally located new alternatives such as Safeco or Foothills? Why would they choose to build this new field on a wetland in the traffic-challenged McVey corridor? But most of all I wonder whether I can trust our city to protect the remainder of Luscher farm for agriculturally and historically consonant purposes if I agree with my vote to allow one corner to be 'developed.'
I have been puzzled by Lake Oswego's recent treatment of the wonderful CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) at Luscher farm, which grows organic vegetables for many families in our area. On July 13, I was shocked to read in the Review that the city had decided to halt the CSA, which recently received a national award for City Liveability. Ironically, the first Sustainable Life insert arrived in the same paper. How could the city cancel this excellent and unique project? The article reported that (city officials were) hesitant to 'tie up 10 acres out there that has been master-planned for other uses.' With the proposed plan of developing 12 acres into a soccer field and dog park, and the fact that the city has wisely purchased over 100 acres in the Stafford area, can (it) commit to a 10-acre CSA?
I encourage Lake Oswego to make a long-term commitment to Community Supported Agriculture. Curt Summer's Review column last week reminds us of the 50-year view/stewardship role we must take when it comes to the remaining undeveloped land. With its CSA, Luscher Farm is probably the last working farm in Lake Oswego. Whereas 50 years ago Portland area children were let out of school to help harvest strawberries and other spring crops before beginning summer vacation, today's urban children seem increasingly disconnected from the out-of-doors and most grow up with little exposure to the sources of their food. Even when the plans for Luscher Farm were first discussed there was still some farmland in Lake Oswego; now we are almost entirely residential. Other suburban cities (e.g. Westin, Mass.) have not only protected these 'working landscapes' but have built them into the school curriculum. CSAs give children the direct experience which is critical to becoming future stewards of the land, and they build community by offering an opportunity for families and people of all ages to participate in the process of growing healthy food organically.
Luscher Farm is an oasis that enhances the balance of nature in our corner of the world and visibly demonstrates sustainable living. Let us not only read about sustainable living, let's participate in it and develop a model farm for our community. There is room at Luscher for a working CSA farm, community gardens, Oregon Tilth classes, fields for walking our dogs and open space for wildlife. I'd like to see our city step up to the plate and commit to protecting the rural charm and historic purposes at Luscher by offering our award winning CSA a long-term contract. Let us protect this valuable asset and become true stewards of Luscher Farm.