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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 »

The “Sunset Review” Process of the National Organic Standards Board

Posted by David Granatstein | February 11, 2016

This post was written by Harold Austin, NOSB member and David Granatstein, WSU

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Photo: T. Psych via Flickr CC.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-624, Nov. 28, 1990) was passed to establish a uniform definition and regulation of organic foods in the U.S. The law provides the framework for development of a system for organic certification (7 USC Ch. 94, Organic Certification) for farms, processors, and handlers. The varied organic certification programs and laws in place prior to the national law typically contained lists of prohibited materials for use in organic crop and livestock production and in organic food handling and manufacturing processes, based on the general principle of natural is acceptable, synthetic is prohibited. The Federal approach called for establishment of a “national list” that would delineate “allowed synthetics” and “prohibited naturals.” If a natural material was not on the list, it was allowed; if a synthetic materials was not on the list, it was prohibited. This was meant to expedite the process of material review by only debating the exceptions, not each specific allowed natural.

Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Organic Farming
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A Passion Sparked and Fostered

Posted by Brendon Anthony | January 5, 2016

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.

Brendon Anthony, student guest-blogger.

Brendon Anthony, student guest-blogger.

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. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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A Reinterpretation of Values

Posted by James Gonzalez | December 17, 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.

James Gonzalez, student guest-blogger.

James Gonzalez, student guest-blogger.

What do I consider “valuable”? How do I determine what has worth and what doesn’t? Am I really in such a position that I can assign value to things? These are questions that I asked myself after attending this year’s Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. My name is James Gonzalez and I am a junior majoring in both organic agriculture systems and viticulture & enology at Washington State University in Pullman.

This year marks the third time I have attended the Tilth Producers conference in Washington. The first time I attended was in Yakima and the second time was in Vancouver. Both of my previous adventures at the conference left me filled with both knowledge and questions; questions that would eventually provide me with insight. This year turned out to be no different. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Extension Evolves: Outreach to Latino farmers in western Washington

Posted by Louisa Winkler | December 14, 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.

Louisa Winkler, student guest-blogger.  Winkler is a PhD student in plant breeding.  She is developing oat varieties and end-user applications for western WA.

Louisa Winkler, student guest-blogger. Winkler is a PhD student in plant breeding. She is developing oat varieties and end-user applications for western WA.

Latino farm workers in western Washington

In western Washington’s Skagit County, many of the people working on farms have immigrated from Latin American countries, primarily Mexico, in the last one or two generations.  In 2014, Skagit County’s population was 17.8% Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census Bureau).  Indeed, the agricultural sector’s reliance on immigrant labor from Central and South America is nationwide; the most recent data from the National Agricultural Workers Survey reports that 74% of farm workers named Mexico as their country of birth (data available at https://naws.jbsinternational.com/3/3.php). Read more »

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The Power of Being Casual

Posted by Abby Beissinger | December 10, 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.

Abby Beissinger, student guest-blogger.

Abby Beissinger, student guest-blogger.

The day before the Tilth Producers of Washington Conference, I sat staring at my dresser unsure of what clothes to pack. You might be thinking, “Wow Abby, that’s awfully vain of you.” I’d probably think the same if I came across that sentence myself—but let me explain. As a student beginning my second year in pursuit of a MS degree in Plant Pathology, Tilth was my first conference as an academic. I wanted to network, communicate my new research, and just generally be taken seriously. I had no idea what to expect at Tilth, and figured the best way to achieve all these goals was to dress the part—I decided to bring dress pants, sensible heels, and a blazer. Read more »

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