Posted by Georgine Yorgey | April 19, 2018
2017 was an incredibly busy and productive year for us at CSANR, and I’m pleased to be able to share some of what we accomplished through our 2017 annual report. Among the highlights:
- Laura Lewis was named the leader of the new WSU Food Systems Program, and Kirti Rajagopalan joined us as an assistant research professor to co-lead our evolving work on climate and water resources.
- Marcy Ostrom and David Granatstein co-taught a graduate-level Agroecology class.
- We funded 9 BIOAg projects led by WSU colleagues, including projects to: increase legume nodulation for improved symbiotic nitrogen fixation (Mike Kahn); evaluate the impact of border vegetation patterns on blueberries (Lisa DeVetter); and explore sustainable crop-livestock integration in the dryland areas of the inland Pacific Northwest (Haiying Tao).
Posted by Emily Barber | January 30, 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.
It was a pleasure and a privilege to attend the 2016 Tilth Conference in Wenatchee, Washington. As an undergraduate student of Organic Agriculture Systems at Washington State University, this conference offers so much readily applicable information that it can be difficult to choose which workshops to attend! I enjoyed all of the talks I went to, but I found the workshop called “Growing Farm to School: Where Do We Go from Here?” most intriguing. Joan Qazi of the Washington State Sustainable Food and Farming Network and Chris Iberle from the WSDA Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School programs led the discussion about the challenges and future direction of the program. Read more »
Posted by Rachel Wieme | January 11, 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.
If you’ve been shopping for food or out to a restaurant in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed the “local food movement” taking effect – products or menu items advertised or labeled as “locally grown” or “made with local ingredients”. As one of many facets of “sustainability” the local food trend has been going on for some time now. For example, the term “locavore” was named the word of the year back in 2007 (yes, it was really that long ago, although I had a hard time believing it too!) Since that time, cities and towns across the nation have seen a rapid growth in the number of farmers markets and CSAs available to food consumers. Also increasing have been a number of Farm-to-Fork or Farm-to-Table type programs for restaurants and schools. While these type of direct marketing venues have been good for local economies, there are still plenty of challenges that small and mid-sized farmers face with these direct marketing systems, as well as constraints that consumers have to accessing the variety of products coming from farms in their region. Read more »
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.
Posted by Marcy Ostrom | November 23, 2015
After 31 years, Terry Carkner has retired from her namesake farm, Terry’s Berries, in the Puyallup River Valley. She and her husband Dick converted a 25-acre conventional raspberry farm into a diversified organic vegetable farm and started one of the first CSA farms in the state. At their recent conference, the Tilth Producers of Washington honored Terry with their “Farmer of the Year Award,” an award that recognizes innovations in organic farming, excellence in enhancing natural resources and biodiversity, soil stewardship, and inspiration to other farmers and community members. Read more »
Posted by Marcy Ostrom | September 14, 2015
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 »
Posted by Andrew McGuire | September 16, 2014
There is an ongoing debate about how to produce food for a growing population without losing more of our wild lands. Two options are being promoted; “land sparing” where production on current agricultural lands is intensified to produce more food thereby sparing the conversion of wild lands, and “land sharing” where agriculture and wild lands are integrated and small producing parcels are intermixed with wild lands. The former strategy is championed in a paper by Phalan et al. (2011) where the authors report that more bird and tree species were negatively affected by agriculture than benefitted from it. A contrary view from Tscharntke et al. (2012) argues that the land sparing view ignores the complexity of the real world, and that the land sharing strategy would produce more ecosystem services. From these two views, a range of options expand, all of which are being researched and debated. Read more »
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 »
Posted by David Granatstein | May 28, 2014
The results of the 2012 Census of Agriculture were recently released by USDA. Every 5 years, the National Agricultural Statistics Service fields a nationwide census to all identifiable farms in the country. The census reports contain a wealth of information and new questions are added as agriculture changes, such as questions on direct marketing, organic production, use of rotational or management-intensive grazing, and harvest of biomass crops for energy. Read more »
Posted by Chad Kruger | May 5, 2014
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 »