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Bounty of programs to fill Luscher summer

by: CLIFF NEWELL Monique Terner, left, and Karen Davis, along with their able assistant Roxy the cat, are looking forward to the best summer ever at Luscher Farm.

Karen Davis has seen a lot of summers at Luscher Farm, but she thinks the summer of 2011 will be something special.

Thanks to new children's garden coordinator Monique Terner, the farm's summer program should be the largest and best ever. All it needs is a lot of children and their parents to show up.

'We've never had such a variety,' said Davis, who has been Luscher Farm coordinator for the past nine years. 'Monique has brought a lot of new ideas. It's her time to shine.'

Terner laughs at that statement, but she is excited about opening a lot of young eyes to the great experiences offered by Luscher Farm. Not only to learn, but to experience nature and to play in a new kind of way; a way not connected to technological entertainment and games.

'We want kids to come here for fishing and climbing trees,' said Terner, who took her position last September. 'All kids have the right to those experiences.

'Kids used to go to a neighbor's house and ask, 'Can you come out to play?' Luscher Farm can be that neighbor. There are not too many places like this.'

'Kids have forgotten how to play,' Davis said. 'They need to rediscover how to play. They've become squeamish. Kids don't take home frogs to their mother anymore.'

Terner has an excellent background in education. She holds a master's degree in education and taught school in Los Angeles before moving with her family to the Lake Oswego area three years ago.

'I want to do community building,' Terner said. 'I want families to spend a lot of time together. I want to network with the colleges like Marylhurst, Lewis and Clark and Portland State. I want to develop a group of people to help us expand our number of kids and the services we offer them.

' These will be instructors who really want to nurture children and give them life skills.'

A number of outstanding teachers have been lined up for classes at Luscher Farm, such as Barb Randall, a renowned area chef, cooking teacher and food journalist, and Laura Content, pastry chef at Tucci Restaurant.

There are a number of superb programs planned, such as the Outdoors Seekers, the farm's first camp (set June 20-24), Backyard Chickens for Kids (and also chicken-loving adults), and Story Time, which Terner thinks is an especially rich way for children and their parents to spend time together.

'We're going to have stories for the kids, then have lunch with their parents,' Terner said. 'Then we want them to stay and play.'

From past experience, Davis expects a bumper crop of enthusiasm.

'A lot of kids become so enthusiastic they convince their parents to get garden plots here,' Davis said. 'They really latch on to what we're doing.

'The parents ask me, 'What have you done to my child? He's running around eating broccoli.''

Terner said, 'I see the children's garden as a metaphor - a place for growth, beauty, development and nurturing.'

For complete information on classes available at Luscher Farm, go to the website www.lakeoswegoparks.org or call Terner at 503 535-5284.