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Embracing Value-Added, Evidence-Based Diversity Across the Food Industry is Good for Business

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | February 25, 2015

Benefits of Org Ag BenbrookIf you ask any brand manager, company executive, or corporate board member what a company’s most valuable asset is, the answer is always the same – consumer trust, and the marketplace loyalty grounded in that trust.

Whether selling cars, computers, or potato chips, both trust and market share are difficult to earn and easily lost.

Maintaining consumer trust does not occur in a vacuum. Aggressive, young sharks (i.e., competitors) are always eager to move up the food chain, and the unexpected must be expected – and dealt with adroitly, to prevent a slip from starting a long, slow slide.

Think of all the sweat equity, and public and private investment capital that has flowed into U.S. Ag Inc. over the last half-century, making our food and fiber system the envy of the world, or so the story goes.

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Filed under Community and Society, Organic Farming
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Sustainability at Tilth Producers of WA Conference

Posted by James Gonzalez | February 13, 2015

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.

Gonzalez

James Gonzalez – student guest blogger

“My goal is for people to visit my farm in a decade and not be able to recognize it as agriculture.” This is a quote from Don Tipping and is one of the most interesting things I heard at this year’s Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. I should introduce myself as well. My name is James Gonzalez and I am a sophomore at WSU Pullman.

This year marks the second time I have attended the Tilth Producers conference in Washington. Last year I attended in Yakima, and enjoyed every minute of it. I knew before the end of that one, that I would need to attend the next, and most likely every subsequent, conference. That is why I was ecstatic to head to Vancouver, WA the first weekend of November.

The trip there was long and full of extremely interesting and insightful conversations with my peers. After a stop for dinner in Hood River and a mug of draft root beer, we finally arrived and checked into our hotel. After some internet surfing to remind myself which sessions I was planning to attend, it was time for some shut-eye. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Innovation sparks excitement and engagement

Posted by Kyle Brown | February 9, 2015

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.

Kyle Brown - student guest blogger

Kyle Brown – student guest blogger

My name is Kyle and I’m currently studying organic agriculture systems at WSU.  Recently I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Washington Tilth Producers Conference in Vancouver, WA.  Let me tell you, it was well worth the time spent.  The conference provided plenty of ideas and information and I left with a reassurance that organic agriculture is thriving and here to stay. Hopefully I can share a little of the excitement with you! Read more »

Sustainable agriculture’s key component? Happiness.

Posted by Zack Frederick | January 6, 2015

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.

Zack Frederick is a second-year student pursuing PhD in Plant Pathology 

Zack Frederick - student guest blogger

Zack Frederick – student guest blogger

The Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference represents a unique opportunity for all. This year, while I expected research presentations, I was surprised by an unusual theme: happiness. More specifically, happiness at the nexus of three points: sustainable organic agriculture, doing what you love, and with a reliable income. Many presentations covered one of these three, but the majority that I attended covered two or all three.

At Tilth, presentations promoted organic agricultural practices that are mindful of environmental and social contexts both on and off the farm. Those like me who fancy being a plant pathologist one day could find many presentations on topics of disease management practices. In theory, these are familiar waters, except that presenters challenged me to consider new environmental and social perspectives. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Training the next generation of farmers

Posted by Bethany Wolters | December 18, 2014

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.

Bethany Wolters - student guest blogger

Bethany Wolters – student guest blogger

If you want to get me excited about something, mention food, farming, or teaching.  I am studying to be an agriculture professor and am currently a soil science master student at Washington State University, learning everything I can about growing vegetables, healthy soils and teaching.  At the beginning of November I had the opportunity to attend the Washington Tilth Producers Conference in Vancouver, WA. One of the events I participated in was a workshop called “The Next Generation of Farmers and Eaters: Changing the Food System through Education.”  It was presented by Stuart O’Neill, who organizes an on-farm internship program in Oregon called Rogue Farm Corps, and Elizabeth Wheat, who is a Whidbey Island farmer and lecturer at University of Washington in Seattle. Dr. Wheat talked about her experiences introducing agriculture to students at an urban university and their campus farm.  I came away from the presentations and discussion inspired to re-image how agricultural education fits into higher education. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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The healing power of soil

Posted by Alison Detjens | December 15, 2014

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.

Alison Detjens - student guest blogger

Alison Detjens – student guest blogger

Tilth Producers of Washington has been holding yearly gatherings for 40 years. The annual conference brings together farmers, interns, intermediaries, educators and food activists for a three day long celebration of sharing knowledge and ideas.

Some of the workshops are technical, providing best practices or innovative ideas; others focus on community and health. One of the workshops I attended this year spoke of a farm that bridges the social and physical aspects of food and farming in a profound, yet simple way: a farm dedicated to working with veterans of war to help heal and reintegrate men and women into civilian society. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Science’s future: telling the story of your data

Posted by Christopher Gambino | December 11, 2014

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.

The opportunity

Christopher Gambino - student guest blogger

Christopher Gambino – student guest blogger

A conference focused on sustainable agriculture?!  Yep, and I got to attend.

I am a PhD Candidate at Washington State University where I am among a cohort of National Science Foundation IGERT students. This is a multidisciplinary doctoral training program designed to create a new generation of scientists who seamlessly integrate nitrogen cycle science for effective communication with public policy makers. As such, my training allows for engagement in food, agriculture, and environmental policy dialogue. In those interactions I usually find myself to be one of the few voices with a holistic perspective of sustainability.

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Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Traditional Agroecological Knowledge: Where Does Cultural Wisdom Lie?

Posted by Bertie Weddell | November 6, 2014
Gambian baboon.  Photo: Tim Ellis via Flickr CC.

Gambian baboon. Photo: Tim Ellis via Flickr CC.

Near the beginning of Roots: The Saga of an American Family, Alex Haley mentions dietary taboos among his Gambian ancestors. Eating monkeys, baboons, bullfrogs, wild pigs, and eggs of wild birds was forbidden. When I first read that passage, a good many years ago, I thought those taboos were wasteful superstitions. Much later, I wondered whether the taboos played a role in conservation, or whether they had other functions, such as promoting group cohesion, that were opaque to me. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society
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The biggest threat to food security?

Posted by Chad Kruger | September 9, 2014

In a recent interview that covered the gamut of oft-cited threats to agricultural sustainability and food security (drought, food safety, energy disruption, economics, terrorism, chemical pollution, genetic pollution, impacts on pollinators, soil erosion, climate change, etc.), I was asked which threat I thought was the biggest. I was completely stumped. For every threat that came to mind as “the big one” I could come up with at least two arguments why a different threat was bigger. Read more »

The disconnect between the production and consumption of food

Posted by Chad Kruger | May 5, 2014
photo: Kabsik Park

Photo: Kabsik Park

Over the past several months we’ve seen: a freak early-season snow storm in the Dakotas that killed tens of thousands of cattle that could take affected ranchers more than a decade to recover from, continued and expanding drought conditions in the corn belt of the Upper Midwest, extended drought cutting off irrigation water in the “produce basket” of the Central Valley of California, massively destructive storms and flooding in the Gulf Coast, and a deadly virus killing piglets in more than half the country. In spite of this, we’re just finally seeing reports that the price of food is creeping higher – a whopping 0.4% two months in a row! – with the increasing price of bacon the one most people are complaining about. Read more »

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