In the Portland Metro area, the popularity of farmers markets and local agriculture continues to grow, fueled by small-scale farms that emphasize sustainability. Given Lake Oswego's focus on sustainability, small farms are vital to the local food system that urban Oregonians celebrate every week emphasized by crowding into our local farmers markets. The Oregon Farmers' Markets Association estimates the number of farmers markets in the state has grown from 12 to 158 since 1987.

In addition to farmers markets there are more than 50 Community Supported Agriculture plots located in the Portland Metro area.

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Here we are fortunate to have our own CSA located at Luscher Farm associated with more than150 Lake Oswego Community Garden plots for our local citizens. The Luscher Farm Community Supported Agriculture project is a joint venture between the 47th Avenue Farm and Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation. Owner Laura Masterson began the 47th Avenue Farm more than 17 years ago in the Woodstock neighborhood of S.E. Portland in order to provide top quality fresh local produce. The CSA project has expanded over the years and now manages land throughout the Metro area, including Luscher Farm, and the goals and dedication to quality have remained the same.

The CSA model offers a unique opportunity to strengthen the relationship between farmers and consumers. Local residents reap the benefit of each season's bountiful harvest. Members come to the farm through the growing seasons to pick up their sustainably grown produce. In this way, the farmer and families form a network of mutual support. In addition to the great produce, the CSA offers members a chance to really get to know their farmers and learn more about sustainable farming and gardening.

As an addition to the CSA and Community Gardens at Luscher Farm we are also fortunate to have Oregon Tilth. Oregon Tilth is a nonprofit research and education membership organization dedicated to biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture. It offers educational events throughout the state of Oregon plus providing organic certification services to organic growers, processors, and handlers internationally.

Oregon Tilth's demonstration garden at Luscher Farm occupies over 6,000 square feet of rich, cultivated soil. The garden features a variety of organic food growing demonstrations, from year round gardening to urban composting techniques. This garden is a teaching tool for the public to learn about organic gardening techniques and serves as a hands-on classroom workshop. Their goal is to educate urban gardeners about the ease and abundance of organic gardening and supply them with the resources needed to put organic and sustainable techniques into practice.

With the increasing awareness for the importance of sustainability, growing one's own food and buying locally, it is crucial that Luscher Farm remain a resource for the citizens of Lake Oswego. As a matter of fact the latest phone survey done by the city in November of 2011 shows that 77 percent of the residents support the Luscher Farm urban agriculture program.

Unfortunately, our city council and parks and recreation department might choose short term regional sports fields over long term sustainability fields. Please let them know how important it is for our community that Luscher Farm remain a farm.

For more information about Luscher Farm, please go to the city website or to the Friends of Luscher Farm blogsite

Kathe Worsley is a Lake Oswego resident.

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