Mycelial Connections and Symbiotic Networks at the Tilth Conference
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.
There 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.
This was only my second time attending the conference, but there were already relationships that I had established last year that I was able to follow up on. Then with fun events like the “Old Roots and New Shoots” mixers, I was able to expand my hyphae into other non-profit, academic, and farming networks. This aspect of the Tilth Conference is especially important for me and my fellow students in attendance because most of us are approaching graduation soon and are looking for both inspiration and opportunities in vocations in this field.
Furthermore, as I operate a non-profit geared towards sustainable agricultural development, meeting people from other non-profits like “Growing Veterans,” based out of Bellingham, WA, provides hope and excitement for the future. Growing Veterans creates opportunities for vets to come learn a new skill by working on an organic farm, and to feel a part of a tight-knit, unique community. It’s organizations like this, that have a passion for both the welfare of people and the environment, that shine light in what seems like a gloomy world (or maybe it is just because they’re based on the West Side).
All this to say, the Tilth conference is a community of folks I anticipate being a part of for decades to come so that I can continue to foster this mycelial network of encouraging, innovative, and earth stewarding friends.