An eye on downtown Milwaukie

A lot has changed in the past couple of years in Milwaukie – especially downtown Milwaukie. A new, younger council has been elected. They’re bringing new ideas. A new population is moving in. A younger population. Refugees from Portland that can’t afford to live there any longer lured by large lots and space (and one of Portland metro’s largest selection of mid-century housing). Their mayor – and at least one council member – commute by bike.

Light rail started service in mid-September. It will – it already has – brought changes. New businesses, shifting shopping patterns and not enough parking. (Hey, at least people are using it.)

Milwaukie has a rich, historical past that’s often overlooked. The Lot Whitcomb, launched in December, 1850, was the first steam-powered craft built on the Willamette River. The Bing cherry was created in Milwaukie. Gary Gilmore, the first American to be executed in ten years after the death penalty was re-instated, attended Milwaukie High. So did his brother, Mikal Gilmore, author of Shot in the Heart and a well-known Rolling Stone magazine writer.

It’s an interesting time to live in or near downtown. It’s like a case study for rejuvenating a small Main street. Downtown is like a blank slate, ready for new shops and spaces. It’s either going to happen or not (2008 is a prime example of the house of cards collapsing). Some of the issues and events at hand – and ones this blog will be covering and watching:

-Demolition of a block of businesses to make room for a parking structure (the owner’s have every right to do so, unfortunately. The city council has passed code so this can’t happen again). Will there be a stay of execution for the block of buildings that includes a popular coffeeshop, church, restaurant, and a boutique?

-Dark Horse – they take up most of the bottom floor retail and if downtown is to survive and grow, they’re going to need ground-floor space. Dark Horse has already moved some of its space upstairs.

-Light rail – are new businesses really moving in? What will be developed? How will the downtown change?

-Safer infrastructure for pedestrians via the Monroe Neighborhood Greenway.

-Removing the dam at Kellogg Creek.

-The city council just passed new code to allow food carts and a food cart pod.

-Milwaukie is looking to get the Portland Parkways into downtown Milwaukie next year.

That’s a lot going on and we plan on diving in and reporting on it.

Meet your neighbors: Local group helps prepare for disaster


The Oak Lodge CERT are trained volunteer members who want to build our community to be more resilient to natural and man made emergencies.

We asked local Oak Grover Ed Jahn (and CERT member) some questions about the new group being formed. Here are his answers. Thanks Ed!

What is CERT?
During large emergencies like an earthquake, it is expected that professional first responders will not be able to attend to every resident quickly. CERT members step in to serve as auxiliary help to bring aid to family and neighbors and others in our area.

Will there be local meetings each month?
Yes, monthly meetings are planned.  This is a new CERT group so we have not confirmed a regular meeting schedule yet but we will post the schedule to our web page soon with updates.

What are the goals of Oak Lodge CERT?
We’re still working on our official list of goals and mission statement. Put simply, our aims are to:   1) Educate  ourselves and our community to increase emergency preparedness.  2) Train – in personal and public safety disaster preparedness 3)  Prepare – ourselves, families and neighbors to assist and support each other to better withstand emergencies and hazards 4) Assist – government responders during situations where the number and scope of incidents may have overwhelmed conventional emergency service.

Who can join?
After a major crisis or earthquake- are you the kind of  person who wants to wait for others to do everything for you, or are you the kind of person who wants to step up and do everything you can to help your family, your neighbors and  your friends? If it’s the latter, then CERT is for you. CERT will give you the basic training- you just need the motivation and will to help those around you.

What type of commitment is needed?
All CERT members have to attend an initial CERT training that takes about 24 hours. These trainings are broken out over a period of weekends or weeknights. It’s a great way to meet some neighbors, connect with the emergency responders in your area and gain the confidence of knowing that your family and friends can look to you in times of need.

What skills will be learned or needed?
CERT volunteers are given basic training in disaster preparedness, first aid, fire suppression, light search and rescue and that sort of thing. You’ll learn how to prepare your own “Go Bag” of emergency provisions. The way I look at it, being trained is the best defense against angst and anxiousness because I’ve done what I can to weather an emergency and not be utterly dependent on others. Its nice to know I have just enough skills to help my own family and provide aid to neighbors as well. I think that’s the position most people would like to be in. If that sounds like you, we encourage you to sign up!

Is there contact info for those that are interested?
There are a great group of leaders now at Oak Lodge CERT and they are just ramping things up to get the word out.

A new Facebook page just launched and they can be found on Twitter at @OakLodgeCert. Right now we’re still working closely with Milwaukie CERT- they are really helping us get on our feet and moving as our own CERT organization here in Oak Lodge. More detail about the CERT mission and goals and trainings through Milwaukie can be found here:

The group will meet next on Tuesday, February 17 at 7:00pm at the East Side Athletic Club.

Oak Grove Soda Fountain Sees New Life


The long-gone Oak Grove Pharmacy – now site of the current Safari Club on Oak Grove Blvd. and Arista.

Over the holidays an ad appeared on Craigslist from a local Oak Grove resident selling the original equipment from the Oak Grove Drug Store & Ice Cream/Soda Fountain including stools and the fountain. Back in the day, the Oak Grove Drug Store was a community gathering place, sold dry goods, pharmaceuticals, and of course ice cream and sodas. Sadly, the building burned down decades ago. In its place now sits the relocated Safari Club and auction house.

And, what may now come full circle is that the owners of the Safari Club on Arista have purchased the old equipment with plans to restore the fountain and reopen (of sorts) the fountain. Here are some questions we asked them on their plans.

Tell us about your business.
Our business is kind of several businesses rolled into one building. We have the auctions, which have been primarily online only but we plan on opening them back up to the public this year. We also have the Safari Club Store in the front part of the building, which sells toys, collectibles, jewelry, purses, etc. –pretty much whatever we think is cool. Our plan is to open a Safari Club area in the larger part of our building this year and possibly lease spaces to dealers of antiques, collectibles, art & handcrafted items. Also, we’d like to host Spring and Summer higher-end ‘Flea Markets’ on our property for vintage and handcrafted items since we’ve had great success with our yearly Block Parties. Our main business is auctions, however, and we offer consignment services for the auctions and specialize in estates, antiques and collectibles.

Why did you buy the old soda fountain equipment?
We’re huge fans of history, which is why we love the Downtown Oak Grove area. Our property used to be the home of the original Oak Grove Drug Store & Ice Cream/Soda Fountain. In the years we’ve been here, we’ve heard many stories about how important the soda fountain was to the people in this area. The drugstore burned to the ground many years ago but the equipment was auctioned off before it was destroyed. When I saw the post about the original soda fountain being for sale… I knew I had to try to bring it ‘home’. We negotiated a deal and now own the original fountain freezer unit, ‘backbar’ cabinet fronts and even several of the original stools.


The old equipment – ready for action and now living in the Safari Club.

What are your plans for the soda fountain equipment?
Our goal is now to remodel an area in our building to be the new ‘home’ of the Oak Grove Ice Cream & Soda Fountain. We were very sorry to see Mix & Match leave our neighborhood because I think we needed a place where people could walk with their kids or their dogs to get a treat and just ENJOY Oak Grove. We hope to open the Ice Cream & Soda Fountain to Oak Grover by Spring, but have a lot of work to do first.

How can the community help?
We would LOVE to have help from the community with this. Anyone with construction skills, plumbing skills, design skills, restaurant skills, who would be willing to help, would be a great help to us! We’d even be willing to talk to someone about running the fountain for us if anyone is interested. This is not a project that is about the money to us, it is about restoring something here that we think Oak Grove needs.

Contact Cindy Smith for more information here:

Meet Your Neighbors: Pepper & Salt, an artisan food delivery business (and real good soup)


We’ve had the soup from Pepper & Salt and can attest it is, indeed, delicious. If you’re in the neighborhood, you can pick then up at the Warrior Room and Mix N’ Match.

Describe your business?
Pepper & Salt has reinvented ready to eat meals. Each unique menu item is a mixture between a visit to your local farmer’s market and personal catering. We hand craft small batches of organic, local and seasonable cuisine so everyone, regardless of how busy or tired they are, has access to nourishing meals.  We are a unique, boutique business described as an artisan food delivery business – which is pretty accurate.  While we offer the convenience of pick-up locations in different areas, we also deliver to a large number of “Soup Groups.”  Delivery is free for Soup Groups ordering $60 or more a week.  Our meals are $10 and $12 each, along with a variety of sides that range from $4.00 – $8.00.  So a group of 4-6 people can easily meet the minimum order for free delivery.  Soup Group delivery is great for groups in an office, gym, school, city building ~ even for a group of neighbors who want the convenience of delicious, nutritious ready-to-eat meals.

Do you deliver around here?
Where can people pick up? We do deliver, specifically Milwaukie, Oak Grove, Gladstone, Oregon City, West Linn, and SE Portland.  We are hoping to expand deliveries to parts of North Portland, downtown Portland and possibly the Sunnyside area this summer.  Details will be posted on our website.   We currently have pick-up locations at the Warrior Room [1928 SE Washington, Milwaukie 97222], Mix n Match Creamery in Oak Grove [2144 SE Oak Grove Blvd, 97267], The Marylhurst School in Oregon City [817 12th St, 97045], and Eastham Community Center in Oregon City [1404 7th St].  Delivery days will be Monday and/or Wednesday depending on location and menu item ordered.



What made you choose to live in the area (roughly Oak Grove/Oak Lodge/Milwaukie)? We moved here from San Francisco 16 years ago.  My husband and I are both from Eugene originally, and chose this area because it felt like home to us on our first visit.

What are some of the advantages to living here?
What do you like about it? Our neighborhood is speckled with big old historic homes on large lots – we loved that aspect of the neighborhood we chose to move it.    We are close to the river, we have easy access to the city, we have great schools, and we’ve have enjoyed seeing this area develop community through urban farms, the Farmer’s markets, new parks, and The Trolley Trail.

What was the need you saw that needed filled?  
We don’t have enough good choices for food where we live.  We have a lot of fast food for sure, but not many restaurants in the area that serve healthy, locally sourced foods for their menus.  Which is why we grow a lot of what we eat.   The concept of making soups came to me when I was working out with a small group of kettlebell maniacs.  Our trainer and owner of what is now The Warrior Room in Milwaukie, asked if we could offer pre and post workout meals to the then 15 members.   I knew soup was one of the best foods for refueling, nourishing and satisfying a craving. If handcrafted, soups can fulfill not only a craving but any dietary need one may have.  Everybody loves soups – kids and adults alike, so with that in mind, I started making them and selling them in quart containers to this small group.  I had a regular clientele that quickly grew.  Members were buying for their post workout meals, for dinner for their families, or to take to work the next day.  They were my testing ground for approximately 40 recipes.  Since then we have grown to have over 125 in our catalog.

Tell us about your partnership with Schoolyard Farms? How did that develop?
Our children attended elementary school at Jennings Lodge and Candy Lane.  I had been growing a large garden for years, but really wanted my kids to get the full experience of growing and farming through specialized curriculum, so as a parent I jumped in with both feet to help our 6th grade teacher, Keely Rock, get this program off the ground.  The garden was inspired by our Green School certification, but we truly became a unique school program when a friend of ours who was farming in the area,  helped us launch an actual organic farm right at our school.  At the time the farmers were operating their own CSA and looking for more land to farm. I invited them over one day to “advise” us on our raised bed garden and to consider the possibilities of farming the unused school land.   It was an exciting moment for all of us when we realized what we were about to embark on.  Keely proposed the idea to the school with a five year plan that included offering some of the food in the cafeteria and in exchange for use of the land, our farmers would provide (5) CSA boxes to families in need, as well as a comprehensive garden/farming curriculum for the 4th, 5th and 6th grade classrooms.  We raised money through small grants and our fabulous PTA made the garden a “line-item” on their funding agenda each year so we could buy tools, gloves, soil, building materials, the green house and the shed. Throughout the year, the kids were hands-on in the building of 30 raised beds, a green house, planting of all the foods, as well as a blueberry hedge and 2500 square foot pumpkin patch, and replacement of all school ground plants with natives for the beds around the classrooms.  They also built bat and bird houses to encourage habitat and researched rainwater harvesting, winter cover crops, and natural soil enhancements.

During the few years that I helped run the garden, I saw first-hand how many of our children didn’t have access to fresh, nutritious foods and many had never tasted fresh vegetables.   We had one little boy pull a carrot out of the ground and ask us what it was.  Many of our kids not only had no idea where food came from, or how it grew.   I worked in food services for years as a marketing director and culinary consultant, so this wasn’t new information for me, but to witness it first-hand really changed what I wanted to do.  I know the impact the farm had on the children that helped start it.  I still see these kids who are now in high school   They have carried that experience with them and now know how to access and even grow fresh, organic foods and how to make good choices in what they eat.

The partnership with school and the farmers has grown even more since then.  Schoolyard Farms now runs the farm at the school and works with the kids each week.  Foods from the garden will be featured in the cafeteria this coming year so kids can truly experience the rewards of their growing efforts in their own cafeteria.   My partnership with Schoolyard Farms has continued and I now buy produce from them for many of our menu items.  I encourage people to come see the farm and see what can happen with a little bit of land and a lot of enthusiasm from children and good teachers!



What’s your biggest seller?
The biggest sellers are our Tom Khaa, Lemon Tarragon Chicken with Wild Rice and our “Mellow Yellow,” a ginger coconut curry lentil soup.   The Tom Khaa starts with a very traditional Thai vegetable broth that we make in-house and then add bok choy, local kale, local carrots, shiitakes, grilled chicken or tofu — its loaded!  We serve it with lemongrass infused jasmine rice.  The Lemon Tarragon Chicken with Wild Rice is made with savory organic chicken stock infused with organic farm eggs so it has a creamy richness and added protein [great for kids!].  We add grilled citrus marinated chicken, organic sautéed zucchini, organic wild rice, organic fresh thyme and fresh lemon.  It’s heavenly year round!  Our Mellow Yello is made with organic yellow lentils, organic squash, organic yellow curry, organic carrots, shallots, onions, limes, fresh ginger, organic veggie stock and coconut milk.  Its amazing and one of my favorites.  We grow many of the tomatoes and basil that goes into our Creamy Roasted Tomato Basil soup ~ another one that people ask for all the time!

Future plans?
We are reaching out to more of the community via First Friday, personalized tastings, and wellness fairs.  Our hope is to expand our pickup sites and delivery locations.




Schoolyard Farms expands its School Farm Program




Candy Lane Elementary School near Oak Grove, in partnership with Oregon nonprofit Schoolyard Farms, has received funding from Clackamas County’s Healthy Eating and Active Living (HEAL) grant, Lowe’s Toolbox for Education grant and The Whole Kids Foundation School Garden grant to expand their school farm program. The funds will enable the school to build a perimeter fence around their one-acre school farm, an outdoor classroom, shed and greenhouse.

The outdoor classroom will serve as an educational resource for the more than 250 Candy Lane students that come out to the farm each week during the school year; students will use the classroom as an outdoor science lab, as well as, a kitchen where they will prepare fresh, healthy meals with produce from the farm. During the summer, Schoolyard Farms will utilize the school farm and classroom to host Farm Summer Camp where 1st-6th graders will learn where their food comes from, how to grow and and cook it.

With the addition of the perimeter fence, the school will be able to serve the produce from the school’s farm in the cafeteria, making it the first school in its district to serve produce from the school’s farm or garden in the cafeteria. It is projected that produce from the farm will be served on the cafeteria’s salad bar in the fall of 2014.

Candy Lane Elementary is the first school in Oregon City School District, and one of only a few in all of Oregon, to build a farm on their schoolyard with the intent of serving the food grown on the farm in the school’s cafeteria. In addition to increasing their academic achievement, the school farm benefits the students by connecting them to nature and their food-system, which is key in developing healthy eating habits.

“Children involved in a school farm or garden are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and develop healthy eating habits. By serving the fruits and vegetables in their cafeteria that these children nurture and watch grow in their school garden, we are increasing their chances of being healthier adults,” said Courtney Leeds, director and cofounder of Schoolyard Farms.



Meet your neighbors: Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery


Downtown Oak Grove is getting its first ice cream shop: Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery. They open April 16th! Stop by and support these folks!  (2144 SE Oak Grove Blvd.) In the meantime, we did a Q&A with them. Check it out.

Tell us about your business?
We believe in bringing joy to people, and ice cream is a great way to do that! The most exciting thing that we do is make custom ice cream, right before your eyes, using liquid nitrogen!

Our mission is to also bring joy to people globally. We do that by giving 10% of our sales to help feed starving children. We are currently working with Children Of The Promise in Haiti, who help care for sick and malnourished infants and toddlers. They also educate families in how to offer proper nutrition to their children, and employ locals to help them provide for their families. Everything you buy from Mix ‘n’ Match Creamery goes toward helping save the lives of children.

What will you be offering? What kind of coffee?
When you choose your ice cream, you get to pick a flavor from a list of 30, and select a free mix ‘n from a menu of 20 sweet and savory options! We add it to the ice cream base, blast it with liquid nitrogen, and stir until the smoke dissipates, revealing the creamiest ice cream you’ll ever experience!

We’re also excited to start serving coffee, espresso beverages, and pastries, which will make a great addition to our ice cream. We use Millar’s coffee, a roaster local to the Pacific Northwest. Millar’s Genuine Wood Roasted Coffee is 100% USDA Organic and supports our environment by using sustainable fair trade coffee.

Why did you choose downtown Oak Grove?
We chose historic downtown Oak Grove for our first brick and mortar location because we think that it’s the perfect place to build a family establishment. Having been a part of a smaller community in the past, we love the community feel of Oak Grove.

Do you see a potential here?
We’re excited for what’s happening in downtown Oak Grove! With Oak Grove Hair Design moving in, Merry Margaret’s revamp, and the Trolley Trail Market entering into its third season, it seems like there are so many community-oriented happenings in Oak Grove! And now it’s even getting national attention from Forbes! We see potential all over the place here.

Winter Ale Fest in Milwaukie!


Local Oak Grove resident and current student at OSU’s Fermentation Science Program Trevor Lauman is helping produce the Winter Ale Festival in Milwaukie that brings together homebrew and craft beer lovers to raise funds for the ALS Association.

ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body.

Trevor has a personal stake in fighting ASL. His father, Wayne Lauman, was a basketball and track coach at Rex Putnam High School in Oak Grove and to this day still holds the long jump record at the school. Wayne lost his battle with ALS two years ago.

The Winter Ale Fest is a beer tasting event from local homebrewers and commercial brewers that will not only raise money for those affected by ALS, it’s also the first beer fest in the Milwaukie and Oak Grove area!

Generous donations of beer and merchandise have been made by some well-known local brewers including Ninkasi, Widmer, Breakside (which is awesome since their production facilities are in Milwaukie, and they’re pretty much heroes around these parts), De Garde Brewing, Pfriem Family Brewers and many others.

All the profits from this event will be donated to the Walk to Defeat ALS-Wayne’s Warriors in memory of Wayne Lauman.

This year’s event will be held at the Milwaukie Center on December 21 from 6pm to 10pm.The Milwaukie Center is located at 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Dr, Milwaukie, Or 97222.

Check out the Facebook page here: and the website:

To attend, those attending need to pre-register (the cost is $25) here:

WHAT: Winter Ale Festival

WHEN: December 21 from 6pm to 10pm

WHERE: Milwaukie Center, 5440 SE Kellogg Creek Dr, Milwaukie, Or 97222

Tickets are $25. To attend you must be 21 and pre-register here:

Gladstone’s Happyrock Coffee nabs award


Happyrock Coffee Roasting Co. down in Gladstone is one of the few roasters in the Clack. It’s easily accessible from the Trolley Trail or a quick spin down McLoughlin from Milwaukie or Oak Grove.

They just let us know that their “Blend No.5” was named one of the 10 best espresso blends in Oregon at The Best Coffee In Oregon Championships last month. The event was held at the Oregon State Fair. A panel of six judges – restaurateurs, specialty coffee retailers or executive chefs sampled a total of 90 coffees in three categories, Signature Blend, Single-Varietal, and Espresso. All were presented by competition-level baristas to insure maximum extraction per entry.

Placing high in prestigious coffee competitions isn’t new to Happyrock Coffee. Happyrock also won an award in the 2010 Best Coffee in Oregon Competition at the Oregon State Fair with the blend “Storm of the Black Bear,” and again in 2011 for the blend “Darkness of Divinity.” In 2012 “Blend No.5” was in the Top 16 finalists in the America’s Best Espresso Competition at Coffee Fest Seattle.

Happyrock Coffee Roasting Co. was founded in 1999 in historic downtown Gladstone. The name comes from what the locals call the town (Happyrock). Lisa Halcom has been the owner and roaster since 2009. She has more 14 years of coffee experience including corporate coffee in her early years, to the NE Portland micro-roaster La Tazza Rossa where she learned about roasting, to Heart Attack Espresso’s mobile espresso from the back of an ambulance.

Happyrock roasts all beans in small batches, which guarantees consistent quality. Serving a high-end product while maintaining its friendly small town atmosphere is Happyrock’s goal. Besides online and in their small historic shop, Happyrock Coffee can also be found in restaurants throughout the Clack such as The Oregon City Farmers Market, Spicer Brothers Produce and Market of Choice, as well as the specialty store Made In Oregon.

Congrats Lisa and the Happyrock gang!

Pronto Pizza: Good pizza exists in the Clack. Really.

Pronto Pizza

Good pizza in North Clackamas, like really good pizza, isn’t an option. Sure, there’s some family style places (they’ll work in a pinch) and Lord knows we have chains up and down McLoughlin that can feed families of 10. But, what’s missing is thin-crust with dough that’s been made with real ingredients and sauce that doesn’t taste like ketchup. It’s not too much to ask is it?

Enter Pronto Pizza. Billing itself as “pizza reminiscent of NYC, a hint of New Haven, a bit of Napoli with a local twist right here in Clackamas,” they’re a shining light snuggled in a dank strip mall off of 82nd Drive. It’s not a far drive from Milwaukie or Oak Grove. And it’s worth the drive.

We went on an early Friday night as it was just starting to get crowded. We were seated quickly and (also quickly) ordered a pitcher of Breakside IPA. The bar area is comfortable and the fact that they have good, local beer is a good sign.

Over beers, we enjoyed an appetizer of Fried Risotto Balls ($7) which were scarfed quickly. For dinner, because we were starving, we ordered two pizzas. The Willamette ($17 – feeds about 3-4) is a white pizza and is topped with roasted garlic, oregano, mozzarella, house made ricotta, parmesan, provolone, fontina, black pepper. Our other pie, the Clackamas ($20- feeds about 3-4) is a meaty affair – tomato sauce, fresh basil, pepperoni, housemade sausage, mozzarella, and parmesan.

Each were top notch and we had leftovers for the weekend.

The atmosphere in here belies its surroundings – once you step inside, you’re transported into a cooler, hipper spot that the owners did a nice job revamping from the former Sunshine Pizza.

Pronto Pizza is proof that people in the Clack like good food, are willing to pay a bit more for quality (local, organic, fresh, made with some thought), and will support local businesses. They offer gluten-free pizza and most items on the menu are to-go. Check this place out.

Open 7 days, lunch and dinner
until 9:30 pm Sun.-Thurs., 10pm Fri.-Sat.
16050 SE 82nd Drive, Clackamas OR 97015


Meet your neighbor: David Kerr

David and Bobs

Oak Grove resident David Kerr is the man behind David Kerr Violin Shop in SE Portland. His shop has  has been in business since 1976, and is the preeminent destination for violins on the West Coast.  From rental violins to the rarest works of art created by luthiers, it’s the place to go.

Along with his partner, artist and architectural designer Bob Abbott, his father Chuck, and two good neighbors, David manages over an acre of property in Oak Grove that he calls a garden, and we call a farm. To see it at the height of the season, with its bees flying and chickens chattering, it is clearly a piece of land that is lovingly worked and provides generous bounty for its tenders.

When did you move to Oak Grove and why?

My partner Bob and I moved to Oak Grove 16 years ago from the city for land. Gardening is in our blood and a small lot just did not work for us. We found the former Richard Groener property and fell in love with the wooded landscape and year round stream.

What were some differences between Oak Grove then and now?

When we first moved out we did not know many people and there did not seem to be a sense of place. We always put down our address as Oak Grove but everyone else we met used either Portland or Milwaukie as the address. They both work, but we liked the ring of Oak Grove. Now there are signs up that designate the area and there seems to be much more recognition and pride in the area. We have also met many artists and small business owners and various characters. The area is rich in talent and I think most people would be surprised at who lives here.


Your partner Bob and yourself have traveled extensively and experienced many cultures. In your opinion, what are a few things necessary to create a sense of “community”?

Well the things that would really help would be to have a viable downtown with a good grocery store like New Seasons and at least one really good restaurant. My fantasy is to have a top notch restaurant, a great pub, a good grocery store, a wine store and a copy of the cheese board ( a cheese store in Berkeley that is on par with ones in Paris ). If we could have access by walking or riding a bike to an area like that it would make a destination area where people would gather.

Bob adds:

The single deterrent to community in Oak Grove is the blight of McLoughlin Blvd.
1. The run down buildings in disrepair reflect a lack of community pride and economic success.
2. New buildings often have no continuity with other buildings and are architectural zeroes. The new development in Portland sets a high standard of design and imbues forward thinking (positive progress).
3. McLoughlin needs street trees and island plantings with restricted turn lanes.
4. The lack of zoning provides for low-class chaos.  It is impossible to grow community or personal pride living here with the obvious void of governmental vision.

What are a few aspects of living in Oak Grove that you think might be hard to come by elsewhere?

In terms of Portland there are more interesting neighborhoods though you would never find the large lots in those neighborhoods that we have here. As far as the country is concerned we live in Paradise just don’t tell anyone.

The lack of zoning provides for low-class chaos.  It is impossible to grow community or personal pride living here with the obvious void of governmental vision.

Your father lives in the community at a retirement community. What has it meant to him and you to live near each other in Oak Grove? How has your relationship changed since you both moved to Oak Grove?

My Dad lives at Rose Villa which is a fantastic retirement community with graduated care. The grounds are like living in a park with flowers everywhere. Their new food hall is really a restaurant and their cook is really a chef. They have the best woodworking shop anywhere and he spends a lot of time making furniture and fixing things. They even have garden plots for those who want to raise their own veges though since it is only a mile away from our place he does his gardening with us. He is at our place on average four days a week so I get to see a lot of him which has been a great gift.

You and your partner share quite a large garden with your neighbors. Does living in OG cultivate/encourage urban farming?

The properties tend to be larger than the urban lots but we both had a gardens in the city when we lived there. I don’t think OG has anything to do with it, but for those who are interested in gardening OG is considered the banana belt of Portland. In fact our bananas are all flowering this year. So with the slightly warmer weather we have, our veges tend to grow larger and the season is slightly longer than even Portland. I have also noticed that driving in to work OG is often sunny when Portland is shrouded in clouds.


Tell us about your farm. What do you grow?

I think of it more as a vegetable garden than a farm. It is 3/4 of an acre though. Spring: asparagus, artichokes, kale, spinach, peas, fava beans, lettuce. Summer: 22 varieties tomatoes, three varieties potatoes, six varieties eggplant, corn, onions , cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, trying black garbanzo beans from Afghanistan this year, blue corn for flour, beets, Swiss chard, carrots, 8 varieties of peppers including the amazing red and yellow marconi’s, raspberries, cascade berries, tay berries, currants, elderberries. Fall: six varieties of winter squash including the rare and delicious Catalon de Plana which I am happy to share seeds with anyone, pears, apples, quince, persimmons, plums, my first Goji berries this year, pomegranates. Winter: my first winter garden! Six varieties of kale, cabbage, carrots, onions, lettuce, Swiss chard, spinach, parsnips, beets, rutabagas, olives. Then we have eight chickens and 17 bee hives.

Do you know other growers in OG? Is there a nucleus of farmers here?

I know a number of people with normal sized vegetable gardens but don’t know any farmers.

What do you hope to see happen for Oak Grove in the next 5-10 years? What kind of businesses do you hope will join the downtown area?

First of all I would like to see the light rail line go past Oak Grove so I can walk to the stop. Second, I would like to see several great restaurants come into the area. Third, It would be great to have a local New Seasons or Market of Choice so we don’t have to drive to Sellwood or Lake Oswego for groceries (if we needed some!)

  swarm landing

Check out the entire gallery here: