Author Archive

Why I Like Urban Farming (and you should too)

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

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.


Medicinal Foods

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Hippocrates offered the advice, “Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine shall be thy food,” in 400 BC. Today in the modern capitalist world, it seems that these wise words may have been forgotten. Fortunately with the revival of small scale farms and the creation of community supported agriculture, people are once again gaining a powerful connection to food. When one holds this connection close to them, the healing properties of everyday foods become apparent.

As the season changes, some of you have already tasted the beginning of the winter splendor soon to come. Who needs to visit the drug store I ask you, when we have so many delicious types of winter squash? Winter squash, such as the acorn squash or snack jack pumpkins that you received recently in your share, are known in Ayurvedic medicine to be warming foods that keep one healthy during the colder seasons. Additionally, the high levels of phytonutrients in these foods have been shown to have anti-carcinogenic effects. Beta-cryptoxanthin and beta-carotene are responsible for the rich orange colors of winter squash in addition to their roles as antioxidants that lower the risk of cancer; particularly those of the pancreas and stomach. Beta-carotene also helps to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol that can clog blood vessels and result in heart attack or stroke.

Besides for these important factors, the flesh of winter squash acts as an anti-inflammatory that can soothe many conditions ranging from burns to asthma to arthritis. If you burn yourself baking pie this Thanksgiving, save some of the pumpkin flesh to use as a poultice. Place the pumpkin flesh on the burn to ease your pain and facilitate healing. Mashed squash can also be used topically as a face mask to moisturize skin.


Wildlife on the Farm

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Hello shareholders and friends!

You have been hearing a lot about the different vegetables at 47th Ave, but did you know about the numerous animal species that call 47th Ave home?  This season we have seen many birds, red-tailed hawks, moles, pheasants, voles, shrews, field mice, foxes, and we recently heard some coyotes yipping in the distance.   We are all particularly fond of one bird whose loud call has made quite the impression on this year’s crew.  This bird is called the Killdeer- it gets this common name from what it seems to say in its yell.  Shrill cries of, “kill-deaahhh, kill-deaahhh” can be heard throughout the fields this time of year when the birds are caring for their nests and their young.   Killdeer adults have a brown back and wings, a white belly, and a white breast with two black bands.  The face and cap are brown with a white forehead. 

The birds breed in open fields (and even lawns with increasing habitat loss) which are often quite far from water.  They lay their eggs on gravel by making only a slight depression in the stones.  They do not line their nests so their speckled black and white eggs blend in marvelously with the background.  The eggs themselves appear like stones.   The adults display a very interesting behavior to protect their nests.  They will feign a broken wing and distress call to draw predators away.  Earlier this season we, at 47th Ave, saw many birds attempting to draw us farmers away from their nests.  They have been mostly successful- especially since we are interested in the weeds near our veggies rather than their eggs.  The only times we approach the nests are to place flags around them for protection.  If there are flags around a nest we can make sure to avoid that patch of field when tilling.  In this way we have attempted to protect the Killdeer population that uses our fields for habitat.  I am happy to say that many of the eggs are now hatching with healthy baby Killdeer zooming about on their tiny legs.  The youngest birds are able to move, but they depend on their parents to bring them food still. Killdeer eat mostly insects like weevils, many beetle species, and beetle larvae.  As such, they can be helpful in protecting our crops from pests.  Yet another reason why protecting animal habitat is better for everyone!

An Adult Killdeer

Killdeer (Lung, Jim 2003)

The Broken Wing Act









The Broken Wing Act (Lung, Jim 2003)


Killdeer Nest

















Killdeer Nest (Lung, Jim 2003)