Tilth

As soil becomes more alive, plants become more talkative

Posted by Aaron Appleby | March 30, 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.

My name is Aaron Appleby; I am a senior at Washington State University, studying Organic Agriculture.  Living soil is a key aspect to sustainable farming, as it requires fewer inputs and promotes diversity amongst organisms, ensuring survival as different selection pressures are introduced. Carbon is essential for living organisms and although plants get their carbon from the air, the microorganisms that inhabit the soil need to ingest soil organic matter (SOM) to incorporate carbon into new cells and organic molecules for growth and reproduction.  Thus, the main benefit of increasing SOM is to the ability of the soil to sustain life, which in return provides nutrients plants can utilize to grow. Read more »

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Apples and cherries help grow apples and cherries: composting at Stemilt Orchard

Posted by Adel Almesmari | March 27, 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.

My name is Adel Almesmari, and I have a Master’s Degree in Horticulture. I have been working for twelve years at the Libyan Department of Agriculture, three years at the Agriculture Research Center in Libya and three years as a faculty member at Omar Al-Mokhtar University, before traveling to the US. I am currently working towards my PhD in the Horticulture department at Washington State University. It was a pleasure to attend the 2016 Tilth Conference in Wenatchee, Washington. It is my first time attending the Tilth Conference, and attending this event provided the opportunity for me to communicate with experts and other professionals and I learned a lot from the workshops presented.

The Tilth conference was a diverse and wonderful event containing many quality sessions for participation. I cannot write about all that I attended, so I chose one to write about, the compost project at the Stemilt company. This compost facility is located in the center of the company’s farm, where the cultivation of apples and cherries primarily occurs. Read more »

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One on one with a cover cropper

Posted by David Sullivan | March 21, 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.

While at the 2016 Tilth Conference in Wenatchee, I was able to ask Jim McGreevy a few follow up questions after his session “Cover Crops in Production Agriculture”. Jim manages organic vegetable and seed production at Cloudview Ecofarm, and is a strong advocate for the use of cover crops to improve soil health.

Why do you include cover crops as part of your field management?

“We are dealing with a high erodible soil on the farm and our goals are primarily to improve soil structure and increase organic matter levels. Of course cover cropping is really important for nutrient cycling on the farm as well.” Read more »

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Living Fences and Breaking Barriers – My Tilth Experience

Posted by Jason Jacobson | February 17, 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.

My name is Jason Jacobson, and I am an Organic Agriculture Systems major at Washington State University.  Through the generous sponsorship efforts of WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR), I was able to attend the 2016 Seattle Tilth Conference in Wenatchee, Washington.

The farm tour proved to be one of my favorite events of the weekend, specifically the Gibbs Organic Farm, where permaculture and livestock integration played a major role in their operation, and the multiple enterprises on site served as a model and an inspiration to a new farmer like me. Additionally, the farm tour visited a compost operation, run by the Stemilt Fruit Company, which provided amazing insight into large-scale composting and some of the real-world challenges associated with it. Read more »

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Traditional Techniques and the “Hopper Popper”?

Posted by James Gonzalez | February 16, 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.

As Michael Philips so eloquently stated in his opening address for this year’s Tilth Conference, “It’s about finding who you are.” These words resonated with me tremendously throughout the duration of the conference, as this is a concept that had been on my mind throughout the previous year. My name is James Gonzalez and I am a senior at Washington State University in Pullman.

Being as this marks my fourth year of attendance at the Tilth Conference, I may consider myself familiar with the ins-and-outs of the conference goings-on. Previous years have put me in convention centers in Yakima, Vancouver, and Spokane, with this year providing me an opportunity to see Wenatchee for the first time. As with prior conferences, this one presented me with an abundance of knowledge and more questions than I could have answered. Read more »

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Sustainability; Strength from within

Posted by Adekunle Adesanya | February 14, 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.

‘Sustainability’ is one word that is on the lips of numerous people with different and diverse concerns. Environmentalists want sustainable ecosystems with sustainable energy production to sustain our planet. Agriculturalists want sustainable food production systems and methods that do not deplete the earth of its resources. Health practitioners want a sustainable health care system that is affordable and maintainable over generations. One peculiarity that cuts across all these is that regardless of the system of concern, getting the optimal use of its components without reliance or intrusion by external forces is the best way of being sustainable, i.e., ‘strength is from within’. Little wonder, that WSU is renowned for its  Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR), which has been investing in students to actively participate in sustainable solutions to complex agricultural problems. Read more »

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Tilth Conference 2016: Fertile Ground for Learning

Posted by Emily Barber | January 30, 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.

Emily BarberIt was a pleasure and a privilege to attend the 2016 Tilth Conference in Wenatchee, Washington. As an undergraduate student of Organic Agriculture Systems at Washington State University, this conference offers so much readily applicable information that it can be difficult to choose which workshops to attend! I enjoyed all of the talks I went to, but I found the workshop called “Growing Farm to School: Where Do We Go from Here?” most intriguing. Joan Qazi of the Washington State Sustainable Food and Farming Network and Chris Iberle from the WSDA Small Farm Direct Marketing and Farm to School programs led the discussion about the challenges and future direction of the program. Read more »

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Inspired by the mission of Seattle Tilth

Posted by Lederson Ganan | January 25, 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.

Lederson GananDid you know the mission of Seattle Tilth is “to inspire and educate people to safeguard our natural resources while building an equitable and sustainable local food system”? Well, after attending my first Tilth Conference in November 2016 in Wenatchee, I can say that I was encouraged to contribute to this mission. My name is Lederson Ganan, I am a graduate student in Plant Pathology at WSU, and I wrote this blog to share some of the most interesting aspects and topics that I want to highlight from this conference. It was a great experience for me; most of the presentations I attended were so interesting, and being it my first time in Wenatchee it was a good opportunity to meet other students, as well as professionals and farmers. Read more »

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The Original Horsepower

Posted by Crystal Allen | January 23, 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.

Crystal AllenBefore mechanized farm equipment, there were animal-powered implements. Before that there was man-powered farming, and before agricultural crops were domesticated there were hunters and gatherers. All of these methods still exist today in various arrangements; some are utilized more than others. The size and scale of the farm operation are factors that play into what methods are used. Combinations of these methods are common at a typical farm.  As an owner of a family hay farm, my personal experience includes mostly mechanized farm equipment, but I’m intrigued by these other systems.  Here, I examine a small-scale re-energized method of farming, using animals to carry out duties on the farm. Read more »

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CAFOs manure use on small farms – from liability to asset

Posted by Tariq Khalil | January 18, 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.

TariqMy research work at Washington State University deals with environmental problems associated with big agricultural enterprises, with a focus on large dairy operations. However, I got an opportunity to hear the concerns of small acreage farmers during the Tilth Conference. A glance at the State of Washington statistics tells us that about 89% of the farms are classified as small farms. Like other small businesses, these farms are valuable community assets, generating both income and employment as well as serving critical environmental, aesthetic, and social functions. These small, family owned and operated farms produce a range of commodities from fresh vegetables and fruits to meats, dairy products, flowers, and grain crops. These small entrepreneurs, particularly those with organic practices, have a variety of challenges and fewer choices. A big challenge for these small organic farms is getting financial support. Many banks are reluctant to approve loans to them, as financial institutions do not consider very small operations to be viable agriculture. In contrast to the perceptions of lenders, however, consumer support is growing for small scale, local agriculture.  Farmers are seeing a rise in community support for small farms and a preference for local and organic produce options, thus farmers are challenged to meet the demand with little financial support. Therefore, the potential for locally available nutrient sources could decrease the input cost. Read more »

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