Local, sustainable and incredibly fresh
Boxes upon boxes of freshly picked vegetables sat sprawled across tables in the barn at Luscher Farm last Thursday evening, when residents of Lake Oswego and surrounding areas stopped by to pick up their share of the bounty from the Winter Community Supported Agriculture program.
From kale and carrots to Brussels sprouts and red onions, the Luscher Farm Winter CSA provides the community with a one-stop shop for the freshest food available throughout the winter months.
The Willamette Valley's lush soils yield incredible crops throughout the spring, summer and fall, but Oregon's temperate climate also allows nature to provide bountiful harvests throughout the winter as well. And that's where Laura Masterson's expertise and 20-plus years of farming knowledge become a huge boon to Lake Oswegans committed to eating locally and sustainably.
Masterson is the manager of Portland's 47th Avenue Farm as well as the CSA garden, which sits on a piece of Luscher Farm land that fronts Stafford Road. (The farm itself is located at 125 Rosemont Road.) She and her crews work hard to make sure members of the CSA get the freshest vegetables available in their bi-weekly share box.
"I've been farming for quite a while and been involved with CSAs for that whole time, so I have a good idea of what is possible to grow, and we back that up with our crop plan to make sure people aren't getting a lot of the same thing all the time," Masterson says. "We grow a lot of stuff right here at Luscher Farm. We have some other properties as well, but a lot of the CSA produce in the share is grown by us. We don't buy anything from other farms."
Last Thursday, Masterson and her crew hosted an Open House for people new to the idea of community supported agriculture or new to the area around Lake Oswego. Masterson talked about the types of food produced at the two farms and the practices employed in their farming.
She also took some time to walk newcomers through the process and explain the system. Here's how it works: Every two weeks, CSA members get a box of either a full or half share of produce. A full share represents food for a family of 4-5, while a half share is aimed at feeding 1-2 people. Last week's crop included red onions, carrots, beets, kale, Brussels sprouts and more.
"I think one of the best things about it is that it's just amazingly fresh," Masterson says. "You can't get better food than when it's picked the day before or the day of, especially in the winter when the farmers markets have shut down and most people aren't as excited about gardening."
The Winter CSA began in January, with the final pick-up scheduled for April 19. A half share costs $555, while a full share runs $999. The price breaks down to about $3.30 per day for a half share and $5.50 per day for a full share, according to the City's website.
Masterson says she's excited to see more and more community members signing up to be CSA members, and she's hopeful the program will continue to grow. She says she plans to host another Open House at the end of April so that she can connect with more community members about responsible farming practices and supporting local farms.
"There's this huge community aspect to CSAs," she says. "That includes supporting a local business, meeting your friends and neighbors at the pick-up, having a little social interaction, supporting local farmers, preserving open space and farm land. I think there's lots of great reasons to join."