Whitaker site proposal in Northeast Portland could be a model for urban farming
Three acres would be committed to a “Farm-to-School” market garden
By Larry Bingham
January 30, 2013
The site of the former Whitaker Middle School, demolished in 2007, could become a national model for urban community farming if a proposal unveiled Wednesday night moves forward.
The Whitaker Community Farm project would be a temporary, 5-year use of the vacant site owned by Portland Public Schools.
If the site is OK, it would be divided into three areas, said Weston Miller, community and urban horticulturist with the Oregon State University Extension Service.
Three acres would be committed to a “Farm-to-School” market garden. Produce such as lettuce, kale, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers would be grown and sold to Portland Public Schools to be used in school lunches at five or six nearby schools.
The money generated would help pay operating costs. Oregon State University graduates involved in the Beginning Urban Farm Apprenticeship program would provide the labor. School children would be encouraged to take field trips to learn about growing healthy food.
Another 1.8 acres would be granted to “Community Partner Blocks.” Groups and individuals would compete for the four spots with proposals. The food raised on the blocks would be sold to local restaurants or used in other ways by the community.
The final piece would be a 1-acre “Community Farm Share,” where volunteers wanting to learn farming and farm-related skills could work along OSU graduates and take home a share of the produce. Some of the food would be given to area food banks.