Why I Like Urban Farming (and you should too)

Any Portland farmer searching for land will quickly find they have little chance of staying near the city. In fact, unless one aims to grow on a very small plot (like those admirable backyard farmers), many farmers are forced to travel further and further away from their community due to the lack of available land.  At 47th Avenue Farm, Laura has faced these same challenges over the many years she has been farming.  She has farmed in lots of  different places.  So where is the farm now?

As many shareholders and visitors to this site already know, 47th Avenue Farm leases 12 acres of land from the city of Lake Oswego.  This, in and of itself, may not seem exciting to you readers, but think again!  How far do you have to drive outside Portland before you start to see fields?  How far do you have to drive before you see a farm with rows of veggies or herds of livestock?  I challenge you to pay attention to these factors next time you take a drive outside the city.  In doing so, you will recognize why 47th Avenue Farm is so unique.  We are much closer to your homes than most farms, and that is only the beginning of what makes us stand out.

The land at our farm is divided into several different projects by Lake Oswego.  There are community garden plots where residents can grow their own veggies only feet from our crops.  There is a children’s garden where educators teach young people about plants and food.  Oregon Tilth has a demonstration garden where older students take master gardening classes.  Next to the greenhouse where 47th Avenue starts our seeds, there is a greenhouse that holds the country’s largest clematis collection!  All of these interesting projects coincide on the same property- not to mention the walking path that surrounds the farm, or the dog park, playground, and soccer field located just next door.   All of these things make 47th Ave special because they make our farm more accessible.  When the farm is more accessible, more people can learn about the importance of local food and gain an intrinsic connection to land.  If the local food movement is to succeed, then we need all of you to be involved.  We want bankers and bakers, construction workers and yoga teachers, chefs and dog groomers.  We want city slickers and suburban families.  We want college graduates and high school dropouts.  The best thing about 47th Avenue Farm is that no matter who you are, or where you come from in life, you can take a walk down Stafford Road and ask one of us farmers, “Hey, what are you growing there?” or “When is the best time to plant squash?”  After all, we will be just on the other side of the fence.  This is such an enormous difference from many other farms that are forced to be so far away.  We are very lucky at our farm.  Interacting with our community, both in Lake Oswego and in Portland, is one of my favorite parts of being an apprentice at 47th Ave.  If you haven’t taken a walk down the path on Stafford Road, I encourage you to do so this season so you can see exactly how your food is grown.  Feel free to stop and say hi when you see us working in the fields.  I look forward to meeting you all.