Community and Society RSS feed

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
1 Comment

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
1 Comment

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.

Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
4 Comments

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
No Comments

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 »

Scaling Up Organic Production to Lower Costs: Will Quality Suffer?

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | April 24, 2014

An April 19, 2014 blog post by NPR correspondent Dan Charles discusses Wal-Mart’s plans to develop a substantial new line of organic food products that will be sold at a 25% lower price than other organic brands. The story quotes individuals who question whether Wal-Mart will be able to deliver on the idea without hurting farmers or cutting corners and sacrificing organic integrity, but they may be underestimating the benefits of Wal-Mart’s economy of scale. Read more »

Ecosystems are Not Smart, We Are – Applications on the Farm

Posted by Andrew McGuire | March 5, 2014
17 species cover crop seed blend

Cover crop seed blend of 17 species

In a recent post, I argued that we should cast aside the ideas of “balance of nature” and “nature knows best” in designing farming systems. If nature has not been optimized by any process that we know of, and therefore consists of mostly random mixes of species dictated primarily by natural disturbances, then there is no reason to “follow nature’s lead.”  But if we don’t, what are we left with? Read more »

Don’t Mimic Nature on the Farm, Improve it

Posted by Andrew McGuire | March 3, 2014

Garden of Eden. Thomas Cole [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Behind many efforts to make agriculture more sustainable is the idea that our farming systems need to be more like nature. According to agroecologist Miguel Alteri, “By designing farming systems that mimic nature, optimal use can be made of sunlight, soil nutrients, and rainfall.” This strategy arises from a long history of thinking that there exists a “balance of nature.” This idea has greatly influenced how we look at nature1 and agriculture. In the latter case, it drives much of what is done in organic farming and agroecology, but also finds its way into no-till farming. Nonetheless, it is false, and because it is false we can abandon the restrictive “nature knows best” argument in designing agricultural systems. Instead, we can improve on nature.

Read more »

Reflections on the Science Breakthrough of the Year

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | February 27, 2014

Science MagazineIn its December 20, 2013 issue, the journal Science identified cancer immunotherapy as the science breakthrough of the year.  An editorial by the journal’s Editor-in-Chief Marcia McNutt explains the basis for the selection.

She notes that the war on cancer started 40 years ago and has had great success in treating some cancers, while others remain difficult to effectively combat. She also explains that as the baby boomer generation ages, cancer incidence, morbidity, and mortality will almost assuredly increase – hence the need for new tools. Read more »

« Older Posts