As an organic gardener growing my own fruits and vegetables I keep a watchful eye on what others are doing across the U.S. On a recent trip to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Pringle Creek, a newer subdivision, seemed an unlikely place to find gardening inspiration. I found inspiration for organic gardening and a whole lot more.
Pringle Creek Community occupies what was once the Fairview Training Center, where for nearly 100 years the State of Oregon had a school for training developmentally disabled persons. With a vision of offering quality homes in a natural environment in 2006, Pringle Creek opened their doors selling lots on 32 acres of the former training center.
One of the things that sets Pringle Creek Community apart from most urban subdivisions is their organic farm goods grown and raised onsite. Colleen Owen is Pringle Creek’s full-time Urban Gardener. Colleen is in charge of the fruit orchard, two vintage Lord and Burnham greenhouses, a chicken yard, and an acre of outdoor growing areas.
Pringle Creek greenhouses
Residents can buy eggs, fruit and vegetables produced onsite if they desire. They can also grow their own fruits and veggies in a raised bed in the greenhouse or outdoor plots free of charge. Thus far, several have claimed a plot or two and grown their own. The Salem climate is conducive to growing a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, but when a greenhouse is added to the equation, year-round growing becomes a reality.
Imagine growing your own cold weather crops like cauliflower, broccoli, kale, chard, peas, and lettuce during the winter months in organic soils. Not to mention a timed watering system reduces the need for water monitoring for ease of gardening. Sounds like a winner to me. If you need help learning organic gardening, Colleen offers an 8-class series in the spring. This course covers most of what you need to know to grow your own organic veggies and cost $130.
But wait! What if you don’t want to grow your own? May be you just want access to fresh organic fruits and vegetables grown onsite? At Pringle Creek Community this garden of plenty offers membership for up to 25 members in their Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA). If by some chance you don’t belong to the CSA, Colleen operates a farm stand to sell the excess fruits and veggies.
Colleen, Pringle Creek's Urban Gardener
Oregon is famous for fruits like cherries, apples, pears, peaches, blueberries and strawberries. All of these are available from Pringle Creeks’ orchards and berry patches. When these fruits are ripe, the community members are invited to come and pick what they want. Residents can make their own applesauce and can it for winter use. Plums, peaches and blueberries freeze well for winter storage, and what a feeling of satisfaction knowing your fruit came from your home turf!
Of course to make the most of this one has to live in Pringle Creek, so what about the rest of the picture? Homes can be custom built or choose from homes move-in ready. Choose from a selection of building lots, custom home plans, or newly constructed homes.
Home prices are reasonable starting around $300,000 and above. Home sites start around $60,000. Environmentally friendly features are available like: solar panels, bamboo flooring, tankless water heating, energy star windows, recycled plastics made carpeting, high R-value insulation, and a drought-tolerant landscaped yard.
Custom home at Pringle Creek
At Pringle Creek, you will find the first LEED Platinum community center building in the U.S. This building features a kitchen, plenty of room for events, gathering space, and a pool table. Jonathan Schachter, the community’s Director of Development who lives onsite, told me the homes are low-cost when it comes to heating and cooling. During last summer’s heatwave when temperatures hit 100 degrees or more for several days in a row his electric bill was a mere $50.
Livability ranks high here. Neighbors can easily connect with one another naturally. With large front porches and walking trails, it’s easy to get to know your neighbors. Walk among tall trees and gurgling Pringle Creek in this urban refuge where it’s hard to tell you are in the middle of a capital city.
During the development of infrastructure, 80% of the existing trees were preserved. Twelve acres of open space include towering sequoia and fir trees, parks, gardens, walking and bike trails. Pringle Creek Community offers urban home owners the best of both city living and the natural world while holding to some of the best green living standards of any subdivision in North America.
Perhaps the rest of the developers in North America are taking notes and planning more of this type of green urban living? I certainly hope so.
Kurt Jacobson has been a chef for 40 years and, after being schooled in the U.S. Coast Guard, he trained in many restaurants under both kind and maniac chefs. Kurt is starting his fourth year of container and raised-bed organic gardening and is volunteering at Wilbur’s Farm in Kingsville, Maryland, to learn real organic gardening. For this and other recipes using garden greens, and more fresh veggies check out his food blog. For tasty travel ideas check out Kurt's travel blog, TasteofTravel2.com. Read all of Kurt's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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