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We are the 98%. Thanks to farmers and ranchers, from the rest of us.

Posted by Andrew McGuire | November 25, 2015

Just 2% of our population are farmers. Perhaps this should cause us as much concern as the 99-1% divide (highlighting economic inequality in our country), but today my goal is not warning, but thanksgiving. Here are some observations that we, the 98% should consider about the 2% of farmers, ranchers, growers, producers or whatever they would like us to call them.

Thank you to the producers of our feasts. Photo: Lauren M. via Flickr CC.

Thank you to the producers of our feasts. Photo: Lauren M. via Flickr CC.

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Schultz Legacy: Moving meat from farm to table

Posted by Marcy Ostrom | September 14, 2015
Tom Schultz conducting local market research at the San Juan Island Farmers Market

Tom Schultz conducting market research at the San Juan Island Farmers Market

This summer saw the retirement of long-time WSU San Juan County Extension director, Dr. Tom Schultz. Among many notable accomplishments, Tom was a national leader in applying the resources of extension to solving some of the most intractable problems facing local food systems. A plant pathologist by training, along the way Tom also became an expert in participatory community development. Through a process that took years to bear fruit, Tom and determined San Juan Islands citizens worked as part of the Lopez Community Land Trust to identify and break down barriers to local food production and consumption. A concern dating back to the 1990s was the lack of local USDA-inspected meat processing.  Island producers knew they had unique products that their neighbors and others looking for meat raised in a humane, healthy, and clean environment wanted to buy, yet the barriers seemed immense. Read more »

Organic appetite continues to grow

Posted by David Granatstein | September 8, 2015

2015-WOW-LogoNext week, Sept. 12-19, is Washington Organic Week, an annual celebration of organic farms, foods, and businesses in the state. This week we are releasing our 2014 statistical update of the organic sector, a report we have now produced for 10 years running. With continuous data over time, one can start to pick out some trends and patterns, which are discussed below. I had hoped to also be reporting here on the results of the 2014 USDA organic production survey, which was due to be released on August 31st but was delayed. Those results will be discussed in a future post. Globally, the most current data on organic agriculture come from the annual “World of Organic Agriculture” report (Willer and Lernoud, 2015), free online, which gathers data on the organic sector from 170 countries around the world.

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Filed under Community and Society, Organic Farming
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What is Holistic Agriculture?

Posted by Bertie Weddell | April 1, 2015
Carol Schaffer

Photo: C. Schaffer

Recently, I watched a TV program about rehabilitation of sloths illegally taken from the wild for the pet trade in Colombia. According to the narrator, the sloths were treated with holistic medicine. This puzzled me. I thought holistic medicine involved treatment of body, mind, spirit, and emotions. I couldn’t help wondering what we know about the mental, spiritual, and emotional life of sloths. Read more »

Space Farming is Science FICTION

Posted by Andrew McGuire | March 27, 2015
The future of agriculture? Photo: A. S. Guerreirinho

The future of agriculture? Photo: A. S. Guerreirinho

It said on the screen, “Bioregenerating Soil-Based Space Agriculture.” The title of the talk was “Beyond Intensification.” The speaker, a prominent researcher and prolific author, someone who I thought would present clear thinking on how, in addition to intensification of current agriculture, we can go about producing enough food for the earth’s growing population.  I glanced around to see if anyone else was astonished.  Space farming, he said, was the next step after agricultural intensification with food coming from the Moon and Mars. “Has it come to that?” I thought.

I am a fan of science fiction, not a costumed, Trekkie-conference fan, but a fan. However, over the years, I have realized that the stories I enjoy most are mostly fiction; the science is often ignored. This is “soft” science fiction, the stuff of most Sci-Fi movies because there is a way to visit distant planets; think warp drives on the Enterprise, a hyperdrive in the Millennium Falcon, and wormholes in Interstellar. Read more »

Thinking ahead: the future of farming

Posted by Rachel Wieme | March 23, 2015

This year CSANR sponsored registration for several WSU students to attend Tilth Producers of WA annual conference.  We have been posting reflections written by the students over the last few months.  This is the last post in the series. Please feel free to comment and give these students your feedback.

Rachel Wieme, guest student blogger

Rachel Wieme, guest student blogger

The Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference provides the unique opportunity for farmers, industry representatives, scientists, and educators to gather for a weekend of inspiring conversations and idea sharing, and I was looking forward to attending the Tilth conference this year for a second time since starting graduate school at WSU in 2012. This year’s conference was a very different experience for me compared to my first one two years ago, and I think that was largely due to the different perspective and experiences I’ve gained through my graduate program at WSU – an interdisciplinary National Science Foundation – Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (NSF-IGERT) program focused on training scientists to be able to work at the interface of science and policy, effectively communicating science to bridge the gaps between scientists, stakeholders, and policy makers. Read more »

Filed under Community and Society, Sustainability
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Is this the new climate normal?

Posted by Chad Kruger | March 11, 2015
Patchy snow at the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area in February 2015 exemplifies the lack of snow in the Cascades. Photo: S. Ringman, Seattle Times.  Accessed via P. Stevens https://flic.kr/p/qegBhX

Patchy snow at the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area in February 2015 exemplifies the lack of snow in the Cascades. Photo: S. Ringman, Seattle Times. Accessed via P. Stevens https://flic.kr/p/qegBhX

I will remember winter 2014-2015 as the winter of seemingly never-ending fog, and snow that didn’t stick. That sucks on so many levels, particularly for what it will mean come July and August when we have a serious water problem in the Inland Northwest. I keep getting asked “is this climate change” and “is this what we have to look forward to?” Read more »

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 »

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