This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference. We will be posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.
My name is Brendon Anthony, and I am currently pursuing a Master of Science in the Horticulture program at Washington State University. I have a passion for sustainable agriculture, and am constantly interested in how we can be developing better organic practices. I also run a non-profit organization called Harvest Craft, and we work with communities in third world countries to develop micro-farm businesses that are based on sustainable food production systems.
All this to say, the Tilth Conference, with all of its network, workshops, and wealth of information is my ideal place to glean insight and learn more about how I can effectively carry out my passion and career. It was such an honor to be able to attend this event, and I am very grateful to those who made this experience possible.
During my undergraduate degree I studied agriculture for a summer at an environmental institute on Whidbey Island, WA. In one of my courses, I was able to tour Ray De Vries’ organic farm known as Ralph’s Greenhouse, meet him, and hear about his passion for farming. He inspired my 19-year-old self then, and being able to reconnect and hear from him again at the conference as the capnote speaker rekindled the spark he ignited a few years ago.
His hilarious stories of failure, triumph, and life on the fields would make anyone want to grow up to be an organic farmer. It’s people like Ray that make you want to be a part of this Tilth network. Engaging in these sustainable practices is hard work, and humor alongside the rekindling of hope and passion goes a long way for aspiring and devout farmers alike. Needless to say, this session at the conference created dreams within me to one day own my own farm out in the Skagit Valley.
However, until that dream one day becomes a reality, our non-profit is beginning to set up sustainable swine production businesses in Haiti in the more proximate future. So, to my excitement, a workshop on Sunday offered education and information on just that, “Sustainable Swine Production for Beginners.” I learned so much that I never would have thought to ask about as we begin to develop these pork programs. The MEAT team from WSU shared insight on breed selection, disease prevention, management styles, and how to do it all sustainably. There was also a first-hand account of a woman who had just begun to raise her own pigs, and went on sharing tips from her own mistakes and successes.
Tilth is so much more than an educational experience, although it over-achieves in that regard. It’s an opportunity to be encouraged, inspired, network and to feel a part of something greater. This experience ignited a whole new wave of passion for sustainable agriculture within me, and I am very much looking forward to next year’s conference!