Growing Community

Alder creek location
Alder Creek Farm

Lower Nehalem Community Trust
Nehalem, Oregon

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The Alder Creek property - and adjacent LNCT conservation area, Sitka Wetlands, with the Nehalem Estuary beyond. Photo by Mike Patterson.
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Community gardens and land trusts don’t usually land in the same sentence. But after talking to Dale Cramer Burr, it’s hard to remember why not.

“Bringing the community in and engaging in this way has everything to do with being stewards of our land,” she said.

Burr’s the executive director of the Lower Nehalem Community Trust, which owns more than 100 acres of conservation land along the Oregon coast. Their first project was Alder Creek Farm—an old dairy farm acquired by the trust in 2005. About 50 acres of the property are being restored for conservation, and the remaining four acres include community gardens.

“We approach active conservation in a slightly different way,” she said. “We found we bring so many people to the heart of conservation—caring for the land—through community gardening.” Alder Creek Farm’s community garden is managed by 40 local volunteers. There are those who attend to the ducks or heirloom apples or permaculture garden. The farm donates nearly a ton of food from the garden to the local food bank every year.

Their native plant nursery is also active, growing starts for restoration on the site and other coastal locations. There are natural areas, elk herds, and trails on the property—including a stop on the Oregon Coast Birding Trail. The trust holds a plant sale in the spring, harvest festival in the fall and, in the summer, they host a week-long summer camp for kids.

“We see 31 campers spending their days catching frogs, harvesting their lunch in the garden, laughing with each other and learning about ecology in this amazing outdoor classroom,” Burr said. “It’s magical.”

Learn more: http://www.nehalemtrust.org/

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