CREST is an environmental education center operated by the West Linn-Wilsonville School District which is located just south of Portland, Oregon. One of the key CREST programs is the CREST Farm . The farm is located on surplus district property. Currently, a half-acre of land is producing vegetables for school cafeterias and other uses. Last summer, middle school and high school interns learned how to grow, maintain, and sell vegetables from a farm stand on site. Next summer, the students will operate a 20 family CSA in addition to running the farm stand.
The farm is also used as a field trip destination for K-12 students year round. Each season approximately 600 students visit the farm. Learning activities are tailored to the needs of individual teachers or teams of teachers. Many of the trips emphasize wellness and the benefits of eating fresh healthy fruits and vegetables. Other field trips focus on sustainable agricultural practices that help conserve resources and promote a healthy ecosystem. Lessons include biodynamic farming practices such as maintenance of soil health, natural pest management, crop rotation and wise use of water. Students participate in hands on activities including: planting, thinning, pruning, composting, amending soil, and harvesting.
All of the farm lessons promote ecological literacy by helping kids understand their connection to food and how the production of food can affect ecosystems. They gain an understanding of the delicate balance of ecosystems and the interconnected web of living things.
One of the goals of the farm is to give students a chance to make a difference in their community and the world by participating in service learning. Some students participate in projects that provide food to local food banks and support sustainable agriculture projects in other communities and other countries.
A number of CREST staff help run the farm and create meaningful educational experiences for students. A professional farmer lives on-site and provides technical expertise, a part-time grant-funded educator runs field trips and the internship program, and an AmeriCorps member recruits community volunteers and establishes systems for distributing the food to school cafeterias. She is also offering tasting programs to schools to promote increased consumption of vegetables and fruits.
Submitted by Bob Carlson, CREST Director
Phone: (503) 673-7349
Fax: (503) 570-2969
11265 WIlsonville Rd.
Wilsonville Or. 97070