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Funds will provide fresh produce for Hunger Fighters Oregon and support local School to Farm Internship

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Local high school students with an interest in agriculture can learn to grow, sell and market their products in the Luscher School to Farm Internship program. A grant from the Rotary Foundation will also help them learn about soil ecology. Several Lake Oswego organizations are teaming up to combat food insecurity and nurture budding farmers.

The Lake Oswego Rotary Foundation, Lake Oswego Parks & Recreation Department, Friends of Luscher Farm and 47th Avenue Farm have combined their efforts to provide organically grown produce to Hunger Fighters Oregon and soil test kits to the Luscher School to Farm Internship.

At the heart of the partnership: a $2,000 grant from the Rotary Foundation that will fund a full share in the Luscher Farm community supported agriculture (CSA) program and cover the cost of the soil test kits for students.

Hunger Fighters Oregon runs a food pantry located at Lakeridge Junior High School, offering such staples as canned and dry goods, fresh bread and milk. The pantry, which opened in May 2017, was started by Michael Murray in 2014, when he was a sixth-grader.

Murray, who is now a sophomore at Lake Oswego High and the nonprofit's president, says he saw a need in the community and began collecting food and monetary donations to serve local citizens. The pantry is open from 1-3 p.m. every Saturday at LJH, which is located at 4700 Jean Road in Lake Oswego.

"Our goal to provide fresh produce at the Hunger Fighters Pantry has been met, thanks to our wonderful partners at Luscher Farm and Lake Oswego Rotary," says Linda Mathes, the director of pantry services for the nonprofit. "This great opportunity to receive a summer CSA share from Luscher Farm provides a nutritious addition to the pantry."

The Luscher School to Farm Internship is an elective course that introduces Lake Oswego and Lakeridge high school students to farming and business management, including vegetable production and sales and marketing of their product. The program was jointly developed by LOHS teacher Andrew Duden and Parks & Rec Education Coordinator Dawn Grunwald in 2017, and is open to any student with an interest in agriculture.

Parks & Rec oversees both the CSA program and the internship. As part of the curriculum this fall, students will analyze the soil of their plots at Luscher Farm. They'll also sell their fresh produce and pickled delicacies at the Lake Oswego Farmers Market and at various high school events.

"(Rotary's) generous grant will provide students needed laboratory equipment to deepen their scientific understanding of soil ecology at Luscher Farm," Duden says, "and its relationship to healthy food production."

A crew from 47th Avenue Farm will share their experience and know-how during the course of the internship. The Friends group, which works with Parks & Rec to implement a variety of educational, environmental and urban agricultural programs at Luscher Farm, wrote and applied for the Rotary grant.

For more information about Hunger Fighters Oregon, visit www.hungerfightersoregon.org. To learn more about the Luscher School to Farm Internship, go to tinyurl.com/SchoolToFarm.

— The Review

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