What did you do with your summer?
This summer, I decided to do something drastic. Something I had never really considered before—I took summer classes! And I do not regret it one bit. In particular, I took a class called Oregon Farmscapes taught by Barbara Brower from the PSU geography department. The class was a four-day adventure. We circumnavigated Mt. Hood and the Portland metro region to investigate agricultural issues in our great state of Oregon. It was amazing to take this class and get a feel for the state’s local food systems at a time when food production is being threatened by extreme climate events around the world.
We met with five different farmers all cultivating different things across the diverse landscapes of Oregon: blueberries, hazelnuts, pears, apples, grapes, grass fed beef, and heirloom pigs. This class offered insight in to the fecundity Oregon has, and it made me proud to be a resident of this state.
We used our adventures to envision a broader geographical message around agricultural patterns and neighboring development. As with every farming area of the United States, it seems that urban expansion presents a conflict for farmers, and vise versa. From stinky smells to sprawling suburbs, each world has something the other doesn’t like. However, this class offered a great insight into how we can have a functioning urban growth boundary, what that means on the ground, and why it is indeed something we should protect.
I would give this class an A rating. If you are a student, it is one of the best ways to get out of the city and acquaint yourself with the ingredients our blossoming agriculture industry produces. After all, we in Oregon export 80 percent of our agricultural products—that’s something remarkable in an increasingly food scarce world. My interest is piqued, my recommendation delivered, and I have one broader question left in my mind. What roll will Oregon play in the future of global food production?
Look out for a similar study abroad class in France this winter break, called the Gorgraphy of Food—France. Check out this PDF flier for more info.
David Nokovic is a senior geography major at Portland State University.