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Lessons for the student and the grower in me

Posted by Griffin Berger | February 8, 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.

Berger head shot crop
Griffin Berger, student guest-blogger.

My name is Griffin and I am a student at WSU majoring in both fruit and vegetables management and field crop management, and minoring in organic agriculture and horticulture. This year I attended the Tilth Producers of Washington Conference. The Tilth Conference is an event centered on sustainable agriculture and natural resources held in November that does not fail to deliver. The conference provides an environment for industry leaders, government agencies, educators, researchers, Ag companies, farmers, and students to have an open dialogue. The conference was a great place to share ideas, express opinions, and learn about upcoming and new ideas and technologies in the sustainable farming industry.

I personally found the conference to be very beneficial to me as a student and a grower. Currently my family and I farm a couple acres of wine grapes and apples in the Skagit Valley. By going to workshops and talking with other farmers I learned about other possible cropping and livestock systems for my farm. After conversing with others who were just as passionate as me if not more so about sustainable agriculture, I was inspired to pursue my goal of owning and operating an organic farm.

Fresh apples (photo: T. Gill)
Fresh apples. Photo: T. Gill via Flickr CC

Policies around organic agriculture were also very interesting to learn, which makes me now want to be more involved with organic the future. As a student attending the conference, it felt good to be able to directly apply what we have been learning in school when talking with farmers, government officials, industry leaders, and ag companies. It felt good to be able to actively engage and hold a conversation with the experts and leaders in their respective fields.

A great aspect of this conference was the farm tours on the first day of the conference. I learn a lot by visiting and seeing how operations are run. I found it very enjoyable to interact with farmers and learn about their operations on site. As a student, I did not have to imagine their operation or read about it in a textbook. I could visually observe the farm and freely ask questions as they came to me. As a grower it helped give me ideas and perspective for future expansion into new production systems. Getting to view the size and scale of an operation and the equipment required or even a demonstration of one way to do things was really valuable to me.

Overall the conference was a great experience. I plan to attend every year now. I previously was unaware of the conference until I learned about the scholarship to attend the conference. I am very thankful to the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources for selecting me as one of the students to attend. I feel that I have learned much that will benefit me both as a student at WSU and grower into the future.

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