Old MacDonald may have had a farm, but who needs it when you live in Lake Oswego?
The city of Lake Oswego has taken the former dairy operation owned by Rudie and Esther Luscher and turned it into a community garden, children’s garden, organic education center, natural respite, and home to 92 scarecrows.
You can check Luscher Farm out this Saturday, September 15, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at 125 Rosemont Road in West Linn during a special Open House.
Activities include demonstrations, tastings and tours, garden items and plant sales and a petting zoo. Parking is available in the C3 Church parking lot on Stafford Road with free shuttle service provided.
What you’ll discover is that Luscher Farm is a special place. Consider this:
●Organic community garden plots are a hot commodity. There were 26 plots the first year in operation. Eleven years later there are 180 which are grabbed up quickly by current gardeners with an annual lottery system for awarding open spots. Cost is $75 a year for residents/$86 for non-residents, plus four hours of community time helping to maintain the farm. Some might consider that a benefit–“It’s amazing how well you get to know somebody pulling weeds together,” explains Farm Coordinator Karen Davis. Gardeners form a community within the community.
●Luscher Farm is not just a place to grow things. It’s also a place to learn about things like how to harvest your vegetables or put your garden to bed (offered by one of the farm’s partners, Oregon Tilth). Kid classes include Kids in the Kitchen, Farm Explorers and a Junior Master Gardener class. Davis’ most popular class has been one on hanging baskets that she offers in May. An estimated 800 participants take advantage of the farm’s programming each year.
●There are countless “aha” moments…like when a child returned to the children’s garden after planting some seeds and declared, “Look! I’m the father of a radish!”
●A delegation from China touring farmland in the U.S. in search of ways to improve their food production included Luscher Farm on their itinerary because they’d heard such good things about it.
●Old MacDonald may have been able to do it himself. But Luscher Farm is a team effort. Partners include the Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation Department, 47th Avenue Farm Community Supported Agriculture, Oregon Tilth Education Center, Friends of Rogerson Clematis Collection and Friends of Luscher Farm.
●Add to that the 1,776 volunteer hours clocked in last year. Those include the Eagle Scouts who have helped develop community garden plots, build kiosks, and install water systems as well as the Oswego Garden Club members who breathe new life into the scarecrows every year.
●The scarecrows alone are worth the trip. Currently there are 92 in residence, all styled and fashioned by the Oswego Garden Club. Cast a vote for your favorite by October 12 –find the ballot box in the tool shed. Kids can also keep an eye out for Sneaky Pete who is hiding out somewhere on the farm.
●Even people who don’t have time to be urban farmers can live off Luscher Farm land. 47th Avenue Farm grows produce for residents who sign up to be shareholders. Membership is available through the Registrar at the Parks and Recreation Department.
By all accounts, Luscher Farm is one of the things that makes living in Lake Oswego special. Check it out this Saturday. And take a look at why I think Family Circle included Lake Oswego in its 2012 list of best family towns!
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