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New Perspectives at The Tilth Conference

Posted by Daizy Dehnke | December 23, 2019

This year CSANR sponsored travel for several WSU students to attend the Tilth Conference in Yakima, WA. We are posting reflections written by the students over the next several weeks. To view student posts from this year and prior years, visit http://csanr.wsu.edu/tag/tilth/

Daizy Dehnke headshot
WSU student Daizy Dehnke.

My name is Daizy Dehnke, and I’m a sophomore majoring in Organic and sustainable agriculture at WSU. For some important background context, I don’t have any experience regarding agriculture. I’ve helped tend a small garden of peas and potatoes at my family’s home, but I have yet to work for a farm or be part of any agricultural organizations. This has been a newfound interest that has only developed in the last few years of high school. As a result of this, I’m always trying to find ways to immerse myself in the farming culture as much as I can to gain a greater understanding of it beyond theoretical methodology and textbooks.

The Tilth Conference seemed like a great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge of sustainable practices in this way. Not to mention it was located and focused specifically in the Pacific Northwest, which is where I was born, raised, and where I see myself continuing to live after university. Due to registering at the last moment, I had no idea what was in store for me.

Upon arriving at the venue for the first day, I realized I had nothing to be worried about. We were greeted wonderfully with some great breakfast, as well as an introductory ceremony from the Yakama Tribe. Something that was often repeated by many of the other speakers was their awareness of operating on stolen land, which is something I really appreciate. I think it’s important to consider the cultural and historical significance of the land we use, especially as farmers focused on enhancing the quality of life for ourselves, others, as well as the land itself.

Some of my favorite sessions included constructing inexpensive hoop housing, as well as adding renewable energy to the farm. I learned a lot about how to save money by using cheap resources, as well as different kinds of government incentives that provide farmers with funds to add things such as solar panels and more energy-efficient equipment to the farm. These seemed like practical things I wouldn’t necessarily learn from a class but incredibly important in the long run. Additionally, another great thing about these sessions is that those who sat in were very vocal too. Many who attended this conference were sustainable farmers themselves, some of which have been operating for decades. It was always great to hear one jump into the conversation and add in words of advice, or even better alternatives.

While walking around the trading floor, I was able to meet lots of professionals from all sorts of places. One that specifically stuck out to me was Thad Schutt, who created pelletized compost to apply in no-till farms. It was incredibly interesting to be able to talk to him and talk about how he came to create it, as well as the studies around its effects on the soil. I also got to talk to the WSU Everett extension office, the WSDA, as well as several seed companies. It was all incredibly fun and insightful.

All and all, I’m really glad I was able to attend the Tilth Conference and attend the sessions I did. Being around like-minded individuals sharing the same goals and passions was incredibly refreshing, and served as a reminder that there is a promising future ahead of me after university. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to attend more conferences like this in the future!