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Cherry Amabisca's testimony regarding agri-tourism in Helvetia

Cherry Amabisca
13260 NW Bishop Road
Hillsboro, OR 97124

September 21, 2009

Mayor Doyle and Beaverton City Councilors
City of Beaverton
P.O. Box 4755
Beaverton, OR 97076-4755

My purpose in being here tonight is to share additional information with you about the agricultural economy in the Helvetia area.

The area north of Highway 26, which includes the historic Helvetia area, has a thriving economy of agriculture-based businesses. In addition to the many grain/hay/seed farms and nurseries which export much of their production, we have another 30 or so diverse agri-businesses which attract more than 70,000 visitors a year. They include:

  • U-Pick farms, which together bring in more than 30,000 visitors annually
  • Lavender farms, which host several thousand visitors during the state-wide Lavender Tour
  • Equine businesses, which receive more than 15,000 visits annually from throughout the region, state and across the U.S.
  • Christmas Tree Farms, where more than 5,000 residents a year buy their Christmas trees
  • Ranching and Dairy farms, one of which hosts the largest alpaca auction in the entire U.S.
  • Vineyards and Wineries, which attract more than 10,000 visitors annually to their tasting rooms
  • CSA farms (Community Supported Agriculture), which provide more than 1,500 people a week with locally grown, sustainable produce (and have waiting lists for many more).

These businesses depend upon agri-tourism to be successful. Agri-tourism needs a rural environment. But it’s not only these agri-businesses that want the area north of Highway 26 to stay rural - it’s YOUR residents who want it rural as well. Over 50% of the 1,100 letters and signed petitions we have received come from residents of Beaverton and Hillsboro asking for Helvetia to stay rural. I’ve attached just one of these letters from a Beaverton resident.

While many of our visitors come from Beaverton, Hillsboro and the Portland metropolitan region, many visitors come from out-of-state and even internationally. When they come, they stay in local hotels and motels and eat in local restaurants. The money they spend here is money that comes from outside Oregon; these agri-tourism dollars are more valuable economically to the region than recycled local dollars.

We support the Metro COO’s recommendation that the Foundation agricultural land north of Highway 26 be protected from urban reserves. These 60+ high-production farms, nurseries and agri-businesses depend upon a rural environment for their continued success. That’s why we feel that this land is best suited for Rural Reserves.

Thank you for your time.

Cherry Amabisca

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