I read with dismay about a proposal to develop Camelot Farm, Portland’s last remaining farmland (“Portland developer has big plans for city land,” April 17).

I am a proud Portland native and a conservative, not a left-wing ideologue who is opposed to all growth. Intelligent growth policies improve the quality of life for inhabitants of a region. However, the impact of this massive development project is all too predictable: increased traffic and suburban sprawl.

Southern Maine residents contend with horrible traffic congestion, and this development will only worsen the situation. Additionally, there is the tragic loss of ecological serenity: the peaceful view of rolling farmland and the sounds of wildlife provide a natural, and even spiritual, refuge to residents surrounded by an increasingly dense, urbanized environment.

Instead, the Portland City Council should contemplate viable alternatives to this unhealthy, costly development. For example, this fertile farmland could be used to provide nutritious food for schools and other community needs.

In Detroit, there is a Farm-to-School initiative called the Detroit School Garden Collaborative; not only does that initiative provide sustenance to thousands of children, but it also teaches them the value of hard work, community self-reliance and the health benefits of gardening.

Or Camelot Farm could become a community garden and jobs training program for Portland’s homeless and poor to acquire both a source of food and a sense of economic accomplishment.

In a world plagued by chronic hunger, it is a sin to destroy productive farmland.

Camelot Farm is a vital aspect of Portland’s identity. As the years progress, Portland is gradually losing its identity as a small, vibrant city and morphing into North Boston. We who love Portland should strive to maintain our city’s unique identity, rather than becoming just another overdeveloped, overpriced Northeastern enclave.

Save Camelot Farm for future generations!

Benjamin Holmes

Marysville, Washington