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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 »

Sustainable agriculture’s key component? Happiness.

Posted by Zack Frederick | January 6, 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.

Zack Frederick is a second-year student pursuing PhD in Plant Pathology 

Zack Frederick - student guest blogger

Zack Frederick – student guest blogger

The Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference represents a unique opportunity for all. This year, while I expected research presentations, I was surprised by an unusual theme: happiness. More specifically, happiness at the nexus of three points: sustainable organic agriculture, doing what you love, and with a reliable income. Many presentations covered one of these three, but the majority that I attended covered two or all three.

At Tilth, presentations promoted organic agricultural practices that are mindful of environmental and social contexts both on and off the farm. Those like me who fancy being a plant pathologist one day could find many presentations on topics of disease management practices. In theory, these are familiar waters, except that presenters challenged me to consider new environmental and social perspectives. Read more »

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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
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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
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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 »

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Analyzing Near Your Own Roots

Posted by Mary Stewart | December 8, 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.

Mary Stewart - student guest blogger

Mary Stewart – student guest blogger

At the 2014 Tilth Producers of Washington Conference I attended Dr. Susan Kerr’s workshop on parasites in farm animals. Worms especially are a serious problem in ruminants, notably sheep and goats. Slide after slide, Dr. Kerr showed sheep suffering anemia, bottle jaw and diarrhea. Ultimately such conditions can lead to death. Unfortunately, parasites cannot be eliminated, but they can be reduced to an insignificant or inconsequential level in the herd. There are several steps farmers can take to prevent their animals from becoming infected. Some practices are: rotational grazing, kidding or lambing during intensely cold weather, preventing overgrazing (minimum height of grasses at 3.5 inches), letting animals out after morning dew dries and performing fecal egg counts for each animal. Read more »

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Flexibility and Sustainable Agriculture

Posted by Jesse Wimer | December 1, 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.

Jesse Wimer, student guest blogger

Jesse Wimer, student guest blogger

My recent participation in the Tilth Producers of Washington annual conference helped me pin down an idea that, for some reason, has taken me awhile to articulate. The idea is a simple one, and may seem like a no brainer – in fact, is a no brainer – once I took some time to think about it.

As a grad student in the Department of Horticulture here at WSU, I sometimes think back and try to reconstruct the steps that led me to where I am. For 10 years now I have been chasing sustainable agriculture. My journey began as a history major, sifting through 19th century Russian literature, trying to make sense of historic struggles over land rights and ownership. I moved on to organic farming in Montana, taking refuge in a turn-of-the-century barn and a mouse-ridden trailer. After scraping in the soil for a few summers I went back to school as an undergrad, hoping that the institution would help me figure something out. Sometime later I moved on to grad school. Read more »

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Promoting Global Food Security One Crop of Tomatoes at a Time

Posted by Chuck Benbrook | October 23, 2014
Photo: C. Benbrook

Photo: C. Benbrook

In early September I visited a remarkable organic farm on the coast of California.  This farm has been in organic production for about 30 years, and its harvests of mostly organic tomatoes have been marketed through a variety of outlets in Northern California.

I arrived on the day picking had just begun on a sloping tomato field about 6 acres in size.  The crop was exceptionally clean, with virtually no insect damage and few weeds.  Minimal, organically approved control measures had been used, including applications of sulfur and releases of trichogramma (beneficial wasps), along with many hours of hand weeding.

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Agriculture Requires Fertilizer Inputs, and That’s Good

Posted by Andrew McGuire | October 16, 2014
Harvest is an export of nutrients.  Photo: S. Bauer, USDA

Harvest is an export of nutrients.
Photo: S. Bauer, USDA

On a brown, August-dry field in Eastern Washington, a farmer in a combine cuts a 24-foot swath across a field of wheat. The harvested grain then begins a journey, first to the storage bin, then to the local elevator, on rail to a flour mill, by truck to a bakery, by oven to bread, and by car to a home where it is eaten. This is good; our foremost mandate to agriculture is to produce food. However, with this successful export of food from farm fields to nearby and distant cities comes a problem: the nutrients in the bread, the nutrients that we need from food, and that plants need to grow, are now far from the field they came from. How do we replace them?

High yields, which we want, increase the problem.  A typical irrigated winter wheat field will yield 140 bushels per acre; about 5,600 loaves of bread. For a center pivot circle of 100 acres, the nutrients in those loaves amount to 182 pounds of N, 70 of P2O5 and 49 of K2O and smaller amounts of other essential nutrients that do not have to be replaced every year. All this ends up somewhere else (in people’s bodies or in sewage treatment plants); it will not be returned to the field1. Read more »

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