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.
My name is Corina Serban, and I am currently working towards my Master of Science in the Horticulture department at Washington State University. Attending the Tilth Conference for the first time gave me an ideal opportunity to network with other professionals and learn a lot from the workshops presented.
This year’s conference focused on change and resiliency. It brought ideas and people that inspire organic and sustainable farming. I personally found this event to be valuable to me as a Horticulture graduate student. Through my research, I want to contribute to the development of pre- and postharvest management strategies to reduce physiological disorders related to calcium deficiencies on ‘Honeycrisp’ apples. Even though my research approach is on conventional orchards, I have always had a passion to know more about organic and sustainable tree fruit production. Since I was a kid, I enjoyed being in the natural world and had my own garden. I grew up with values that show how important is the respect for the land and the care that is an integral part of growing healthy and nutritious crops. After sharing my ideas with others who were passionate as well about organic and sustainable agriculture, I felt like I was in the right place. I could express my opinions and learn about new ideas and technologies in sustainable agriculture.
Highlights from this year’s conference are many. The keynote speaker, Michael Philips from Lost Nation Orchard provided a powerful inspiration about the different ways that sustainable agriculture can take to become truly resilient. His presentations about orchard health and holistic disease management were interesting to attend and see holistic approaches for specific fruit tree diseases. It was fascinating the way Michael associated our immune system with tree’s own immune ability that could be coupled with the stimulation of friendly microbes to defeat disease from within.
Another great part of this conference was the Soil Symposium “Soil: What’s it worth?”, with the focus on looking at the latest soil science research by approaching the whole farm economics. I learned how sustainable soil management is converted to economic benefits through many different pathways, which helps farmers to make decisions regarding their soil management. The Soil Symposium gave me new insights about the importance of soil health and how soils contribute to the health of our crops.
Meeting the conference attendees from all over Washington state, especially organic growers, allowed me to network on new levels, appreciating what other people are doing in their practice compared to mine. It exposed me to new career paths and different trainings that lead them to it. This has effectively broadened my horizons and gave me several very useful ideas for my future projects as well as research ideas. Overall, The Tilth Conference provided me with an exceptional opportunity for horizontal exchange of experience and knowledge. I learned so many new things during the three-day event, and I plan to attend next year as well.
It was such an honor to be able to attend this conference and I want to express my appreciation to CSANR for the scholarship that allowed me to gain the knowledge and resources valuable for the next generation of leaders in this industry.