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Farm Incubator Programs in Higher Education

Posted by Alex Shih | May 11, 2017

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend the Tilth Conference.  We have posted reflections written by the students over the past several months. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

2016 was an historic year for the annual Tilth Conference; for the first time this region-wide event was organized by two well-known and respected organizations in Washington State – Seattle Tilth and Tilth Producers of Washington. The recent merger of these two organizations under the new name, Tilth Alliance, is a large step toward building greater awareness and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices in the future. Congratulations! Read more »

Social & Soil Networks

Posted by Tyler Sabin | May 8, 2017

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend the Tilth 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 Tilth Conference was a highly informative and welcoming experience to attend. As an organic agriculture undergraduate citing articles and extension publications, I find it rewarding to have the opportunity to meet the men and women doing the research. As an intern researching cover crops out of Pullman, I enjoyed the chance to discuss methods and results with the researchers doing similar work full time on a large scale. I found the information shared during the presentations by Nick Andrews and Doug Collins, both renowned for their work with cover crops, to be helpful in framing what I had seen firsthand. Their presentations also helped put my mind at ease knowing that even at the professional level, researchers are facing similar struggles to those that I encountered during my internship. Read more »

With heirloom varieties, Grant Gibbs takes a unique slice of the apple market pie

Posted by Sajal Sthapit | May 4, 2017

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend the Tilth 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.

Photo: E. Palikhey/LI-BIRD

Washington grown apples are among the best in the world. The state produces more apples than any other state in the USA. The apple is also Washington’s number one agricultural commodity valued at USD 2.18 billion in 2013. Read more »

Exploring Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Agriculture in the Northwest

Posted by Liz Allen | April 27, 2017

One of the best things about my work is that it connects me with researchers from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds who are committed to conducting science that informs natural resource management decisions.  I’ve been fortunate to work with WSU researchers studying regional climate change impacts for nearly 6 years now, and over that time many of my academic colleagues have developed new skills related to communicating their research to diverse audiences. I’ve also witnessed scientists’ growing interest in learning from stakeholders who make decisions about managing agricultural and natural resources “out there in the real world”. Read more »

Tilth Producers Annual Conference: The art of storytelling and its place in science

Posted by Zack Frederick | April 6, 2017

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend the Tilth 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 Tilth Producers annual conference represents a mix of growers, industry stakeholders, educators, and students, each with their own perspective on a variety of sustainable and organic farming practices. As is the case in any heterogeneous audience, the challenge for a presenter is to find a way to engage individuals with different learning styles and interests and spur thoughtful discussion, while relaying the nitty gritty detail in the data. This is not easy. Read more »

Mycelial Connections and Symbiotic Networks at the Tilth Conference

Posted by Brendon Anthony | January 4, 2017

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend the Tilth 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.

img_9234There is something fascinating and beautiful about gathering like-minded people under the same roof to talk about shared interests. There is a connection that is felt amongst the attendees at Tilth Conference. There is a depth of relationship that fills up the hallways of each convention center across the state as the conference travels from region to region. Conversations take place around tables where friends look forward to seeing other friends and colleagues this one time a year. For most, Tilth Conference is sacred ground.

This connection is further encapsulated in the joining of three organizations into one Tilth Alliance. That formal alliance sufficiently represents the alliances forged and fostered at this conference. Like the keynote speaker, Michael Phillips, constantly showcased through his lectures on fungal symbiosis, there is both strength and mutualistic benefits that come from connections. This breadth of connectivity is what encourages fellow farmers, scientists, researchers, interns, and advocates of the organic and sustainable agriculture community to press forward in the midst of what might feel like daunting opposition at times. Furthermore, it is the depth of these relationships that promote a sense of expectation for attending the conference each year. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Farm Incubator Programs Offer Strong Foundation

Posted by Janel Davisson | December 14, 2016

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend the Tilth 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.

orchard-picMy name is Janel Davisson, I am a senior at WSU in the Organic Agriculture program. I attended the Tilth Conference last year in Spokane and I was excited to get the opportunity to go again. Last year I really enjoyed the varied topics of discussion and the practical knowledge that was shared, and was looking forward to hearing from people working in their field of passion.

This year in Wenatchee one of the workshops I attended was on farm incubators by Kate Smith, a graduate student at WSU. The current studies on incubator farms are miniscule at best, partly due to the infancy of this program. The goal of these farms is to introduce new farmers into the system and get them a solid foundation to begin their farming careers. Going into this workshop I had an elementary knowledge of what an incubator farm entailed. I knew that larger farms would lease out small plots of land to up and coming farmers and provide infrastructure and knowledge shared by landlords and other incubator farmers. What I didn’t realize was the extent to which these farms provide for the new farmers. Viva Farms in Mount Vernon not only provides the land, but they also work with the local school to provide an in-class education and on-farm practicum on how to run a farm. One of the biggest surprises to me was that they also subsidize capital loans to the farmers to help them get started. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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A Good Harvest: Mendoza and Baird dazzle the Quincy Success Summit

Posted by Marcy Ostrom | November 22, 2016

oscar-romero-2016-iris-summit-logoAs shown in this logo designed by Quincy resident Oscar Romero, the theme of last Tuesday’s bilingual community summit held at the Quincy Junior High as “Seeding Success, Growing ONE Community.” A team of bilingual junior high students and faculty, along with local volunteers hosted over 160 community members in a discussion about how to protect our region’s land and water resources and build community health and prosperity.  “Fostering cross-generational relationships, a sense of belonging, and knowledge and resource sharing” were among the subjects highlighted in a collection of over 60 short stories submitted by local citizens. These essays, chronicling recent “successes” both large and small were used to inspire deliberation, celebration, and action in small work groups. Read more »

Join us – The future of water in the Columbia River Basin

Posted by Chad Kruger | June 13, 2016
Wanapum Dam at normal operation on the Columbia River (photo: Dept of Ecology)

Wanapum Dam at normal operation on the Columbia River (photo: Dept of Ecology)

Water is the life-blood of agriculture. Without an adequate supply of water we cannot produce, process, or prepare food. You’ve heard the catch-phrase “No Farms, No Food”? The same could be said for water: “No Water, No Food”.

Actually, water is even more important than that. It is the life-blood of civilization. There was a study published a couple of years ago that evaluated the importance of water (and grain) as it related to the development of the Roman Empire (Dermody et.al. 2014). The conclusion of this study is that Rome ultimately was undone by the fact that it had to expand its empire too far to secure sufficient water resources to feed itself. [Someday I’ll write a post about this study – it’s an open access journal so anyone with a computer can read it.] Read more »

Filed under Climate Change, Community and Society, Event
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Organic Farming Provides Ecosystem Service and Solves Weed Problems

Posted by Andrew McGuire | April 14, 2016

In nearly all surveys of organic farmers their top priority for research is weed control. Weeds are a tough problem to solve, but with creativity and spunk, researchers in Spain have done it! In their 2016 paper, “Arable Weed Decline in Northeast Spain: Does Organic Farming Recover Functional Biodiversity?” Chamorro et al. provide a unique glimpse into the sort of thinking it will take to move agriculture to a different place. In a series of unanticipated turns, the authors lead us down a path to weed-free agriculture.

First, they contend that weeds are misunderstood. Weeds, as the paper admits, are a bane of agriculture, reducing yields as they do, but in a subtle departure, we are then told “The role of weeds in agroecosystems has been largely debated.” From this debate, the authors conclude that “the role of weeds is manifold”; weeds are not just yield-robbing competitors of crops, they also provide an “ecosystem service.” Read more »

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