"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." ~George Bernard Shaw

"Look at everything as though you were seeing it either for the first or last time." ~Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Epitaph for a tree

I love Luscher Farm. I have gardened at Luscher Farm for years. Over these years I have grown bushels of tomatoes and potatoes, harvested peas, beans, garlic, onions, winter and summer squash, carrots, herbs and a variety of flowers from spring through late fall. Some cool weather crops like spinach, chard and broccoli have even provided us with fresh vegetables all through the winter. As the years passed I added perennial crops such as asparagus, hops and the ubiquitous rhubarb that our family had never eaten before. Spicy Rhubarb salsa has become a family favorite.
Along with growing all these wonderful organic vegetables for my family and friends there were unexpected harvests. New friendships were
established and rooted in sharing seeds, experience, help and vacation watering. Leaning across a row of beans to chat with a garden neighbor I would learn lots of garden tricks; gardeners love to share information.
Meanwhile, during the years that I was growing food at Luscher farm, the farm was also growing. The community gardens began with 20 Adult Community Center plots and at this point there are about 125 garden plots. It is absolutely wonderful to watch all the families learn and play while growing their food. It is such a healthy and happy environment . The city has done a great job of organizing and managing the community gardens and providing a wonderful learning environment for everyone.
A huge part of Luscher Farms’ learning environment is the surrounding landscape and wildlife habitat. While we garden we are surrounded by
visible and not so visible mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. Some are more discreet than others. The Coopers Hawk will sit on top of the chicken coop and could care less if you get close. The Killdeer are always present in the community gardens (literally underfoot ) and every year some nests have to be flagged so no one accidentally walks on them. Deer and coyote are around but not as obvious as those darn moles who challenge us every year. Frogs can be heard in the wetlands below the gardens.
American Kestrels nest every year in the big Douglas Fir tree in front of the barn. Last Friday Riccardo Spaccarrelli and I looked up at the tree and watched as two Kestrels flew in and out of the Douglas Fir. Wow. They are here.
Today the iconic Douglas Fir was cut down by the city. Our tree and wildlife habitat is gone. It really is very sad. Near the barn is a sign that reads:
“Backyard Wildlife Habitat: This property provides the four basic habitat elements needed for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover and places to raise young. It has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat site.” Oh really?

Where the American Kestrel nested for at least 15 years.

The logger just doing his job-at least we managed to
have them check all the holes for eggs before the tree
was removed.
This is all that was left. Gary Evans of the city refused to
have a snag left for valuable wildlife habitat. He didn't
want the visual reminder of what had been there for at least 150 years.
Really too bad as it would have been a wonderful sorce of learning
for all ages.- not just children.

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