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Tilth bids fond farewell to Luscher Farm


Parting from Luscher Farm will be sweet sorrow for Colleen Lockovitch.

“It’s never looked better!” she said of the 6,000-square-foot garden that Oregon Tilth has worked for the past 14 years.

Lockovitch, who is program manager of Tilth’s Organic Education Center, was emotional as she strolled through the garden for one of the last times, lovingly stopping by each plant — spinach, carrots, fava beans, potatoes, peas, kale — and describing how delicious they are. It was vegetable heaven.

But now Oregon Tilth is moving on. It will no longer have a permanent garden at Luscher Farm and will be taking its education classes to various sites in the Portland metro area. Lockovitch will be loading up her truck with tools and hitting the road. Tilth’s main partner will now be the Portland Community Garden.

“After evaluating our mission, finances and goals, we decided that having a demonstration garden is not feasible,” Lockovitch said. “We can have a more successful model going to specific sites in this area. Having your own garden is such an intense resource.

“To keep this program running required constant care to do it really well. The different crops required attention every day.”

“We’re sad to see Oregon Tilth go,” said Jan Wirtz, city recreation supervisor/cultural division. “We hope we can maintain a relationship by contracting for future classes. Tilth is so highly regarded.”

It was in 1999 that a shovel first hit the ground for Tilth at Luscher, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Paul Newman Charitable Foundation. Tilth not only established a teaching curriculum that has greatly influenced organic farming in Oregon, it provided fresh, organic produce for thousands of Oregonians through the Oregon Food Bank.

“Tilth programs were so interesting,” Wirtz said. “You could get enough information in an hour to last you a lifetime. It was so hands-on.”

Wirtz and Lockovitch have fond memories of digging up the rich soil of the garden to find garlic after a wet spring.

Tilth introduced many people to Luscher Farm. One of them was Lockovitch, who first came to Luscher because of a Tilth class several years ago. She went on to serve as the children’s education program director at Luscher Farm.

Changes will be coming to the garden site. It is likely it will be transformed into demonstration gardens under the city’s teen program, led by Cydny Winslow.

“We’ll probably plan to maintain the garden and have it be the focus of our education program,” Wirtz said. “It will probably be redesigned, but we don’t want to lose all the structure or the incredible soil. It’s a slow process. We want to care for it just as Tilth cared for it.”

by: CLIFF NEWELL - The Oregon Tilth demonstration garden has been a gem of Luscher Farm for the past 14 years. Colleen Lockovitch, left, and Jan Wirtz are bidding it a fond farewell.