Check out document re. Luscher Farm


After reading Kim Gilmer's opinion piece in the Review last week I would like to respond to some of her statements.

Kim Gilmer's response to concerns about moving farming to an alternate site not being viable due to slope, wetness and other problems was 'The city is in the process of getting an updated opinion about the types of farming activities that are suitable in the revised master plan.'

The real answer is in the document from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service that was sent to the Parks and Recreation department on July 12, 2011. This document analyzed three options for Luscher Farm.

Option One analyzed moving the CSA to the Firlane property. The conclusion for this option was: 'It is questionable whether the CSA could sustainably farm on the Firlane property.' The Option One analysis goes on to say that the CSA might be lost as a tenant because it would be less profitable (meaning they couldn't grow as much food to sell almost year-round like they do today), that the steepest slopes may be a safety hazard for tillage and harvest and converting the CSA area to ball fields would be converting prime farmland to a non-farmland use.

Option Two discussed growing different agricultural crops on the Firlane property. Perennial crops such as grasses, shrubs or trees being more sustainable for the erosive slopes on Firlane. A permanent crop such as blueberry shrubs or orchard trees with grass planted between the rows would protect the soil and reduce runoff. In addition, existing water rights would need to be transferred from Luscher Farm to Firlane or additional water rights would be needed. Plus farm infrastructure would need to be added.

Option Three was to maintain Luscher farm with the full complement of community gardens and existing CSA acreage. Luscher Farm has ideal soil and infrastructure conditions for agriculture. The CSA provides a unique interaction between the community and the property. The CSA has a strong community ethic that invites regular community participation and provides opportunities that 'grow' new farmers. Luscher farm is a leader and model example of Urban Farming. Few cities have viable farmland within their communities. Luscher Farm, with its strong agricultural partnerships, appears to be a rare and thriving example.

The only real option is Option Three. Given the facts given by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the position the city has taken with the Natural Step and Sustainability it would be just a wee bit awkward, unseemly and incomprehensible to move the CSA fields.

Kim Gilmer even admits in her opinion piece from last week that it has been 10 years since a study was done on ballfields. I would encourage her to take a fresh look at all the existing ballfields that do not have turf and at other potential ball field locations such as the armory, the properties near the Hunt Club, Foothills and closed school properties.

Finally, the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board is not the only board that advises council on acquisition of public lands. If I recall correctly, the Natural Resources Advisory Board has advised council on purchasing and acquiring the Brock, Hart and Crowell properties. It is inadvisable to only have one board making decisions when those decisions affect natural resources, sustainability and historical sites. Decisions can be skewed by utilizing only one group.

Kathe Worsley is a resident of Lake Oswego.