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You are here: Home ›› Events ›› Tilth Conference: Friday Sessions

Tilth Conference: Friday Sessions

This year, the symposium will climate change and Northwest agriculture and the farm tour will be stopping at four farms in the area.

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Our Friday sessions will last the entire day. Farm Tours will begin around 9:30 a.m. and end around 5 p.m. Lunch and transportation are included for all Friday sessions.

Farm Tour: LINC Foods (Sold Out!)

9:30 a.m.-5 p.m.

LINC FoodsJoin us on Friday for a tour of Spokane's regional food system with LINC Foods, a farmer owned one-stop shop for local, sustainable food! We'll visit the LINC Foods warehouse to learn how they're linking local farmers to new markets. Then take a tour of LINC Foods member farms, including Lazy R Ranch, owned by one of LINC Foods' co-founders, and Urban Eden Farm. Space is limited!

Stops will include:

  • LINC Foods — At the LINC Foods warehouse, a worker and farmer owned cooperative food hub, we will get to see part of the in-take process and the beginning of delivery as the trucks are loaded up and head out on their routes. Get an overview of LINC Foods by co-founder Beth Robinette, plus learn about operations of the business. 
  • Lazy R Ranch — Lazy R Ranch is a fourth-generation family farm that produces grass-fed beef. Today, Maurice Robinette and his oldest daughter, Beth, operate the ranch together. In 1996, they adopted the principles of Holistic Management, which are both a framework for truly sustainable (triple bottom line) decision making and a method of pasture management that allows them to mimic the natural symbiotic relationship between grazing animals and grasslands. During this time, they have seen a dramatic shift both in the health of the land, and in the health of their business. They now direct market 100% of their beef, meaning that every animal born on their ranch ends up on the table of someone in the community. Beth and Maurice now work to educate other producers on sustainable livestock production through their nonprofit, Roots of Resilience. Beth is also the cofounder of LINC Foods. Learn more.
  • Urban Eden Farm — A mere five minutes from the Davenport Grand Hotel, Urban Eden Farm prides itself on being Spokane's "seriously local" farm — most of their business is done within 15 minutes of the farm! They grow a variety of diversified vegetables which they sell through their CSA and at restaurants, markets and LINC Foods. The farm is owned by Jim Shrock, whose family has been farming in Washington State since 1883. The farm is managed by Tarawyn Waters and Patrick Mannhard who oversee the day-to-day operations of the farm. Urban Eden Farm also engages volunteers, students and community members to connect people to their food. Learn more.

Symposium: Emerging Varieties and Breeds — Selecting for Quality Traits and Capturing Niche Markets

10 a.m.-5:30 p.m.

The Northwest offers wonderful diversity of growing regions and sales channels, with ample opportunity for niche marketing and a focus on high quality and unique attributes in crop and livestock products.

In this symposium, researchers from WSU and OSU will share latest developments, new trends and overarching analysis related to quality traits in grains, vegetables, tree fruits and meats. Plus, market analysis and a panel discussion by members of the local quality-focused food economy. The symposium promises to be an information-rich, valuable experience for researchers and producers alike.

10-10:50 a.m. Developing Grain and Seed Crops With Enhanced Nutritional Value and Resilience Across Diverse Environments
  • Kevin Murphy, WSU Sustainable Seed Systems Lab 
  • In our pursuit of new crop varieties with ever increasing yield, traits that contribute to human health and nutrition are often not prioritized nor included in the selection process. This has resulted in the development of varieties across different crop species with decreased nutritional value over the past 50 to 100 years. The research in the Sustainable Seed Systems Lab at Washington State University focuses on the development of new varieties of crops such as barley, quinoa, spelt, and perennial grains with enhanced nutritional value and/or heart-healthy traits, in addition to yield stability across multiple environments and shifts in climate from year-to-year. In this presentation I will describe our efforts and outputs in this arena, then discuss our new collaboration with the WSU Elson Floyd College of Medicine to further assess the actual benefits of including nutrient-dense crop varieties in our diets. I will link this work with an evolutionary participatory breeding strategy we employ that is designed to develop diverse populations targeting farmers across agro-ecosystems and with different marketing strategies that are more tolerant to changes in our climate. Production practices of these crops will be sprinkled throughout the talk and hopefully the subject of questions and discussion afterwards. 
11-11:50 a.m.  Farm to Fork: Understanding the Traits that Affect Beef, Pork and Lamb Quality
  • Mark Heitstuman, WSU Asotin and Garfield County Extension, WSU MEAT Team
  • A delicious meal of beef, pork or lamb begins on the farm and concludes with the proper preparation and cooking techniques that lead to a great eating experience.  This presentation will discuss how breeds, genetics, selection, nutrition and management of beef, pork and lamb affects the end product.  Targeting specific Niche Markets for locally sourced meat products will also be discussed.
noon-1 p.m.  Lunch break 
1:10-2 p.m.  Meeting Consumer Demands for Superior Quality and Grower Requirements for Enhanced Productivity in Tree Fruit
  • Jim McFerson, WSU Tree Fruit Research Extension Center
  • Consumers in the Pacific Northwest and beyond now enjoy dramatically increased overall diversity and availability of fresh and processed fruit products. Both traditional retail and direct-to-consumer markets offer consumers unprecedented choices of conventionally- and organically-produced fruits. While the current situation offers multitudinous opportunities for Northwest producers and processors of tree fruit, it also brings challenges. I will describe in detail the development of two exciting cultivars from the WSU apple breeding program marketed as Cosmic Crisp and Sunrise Magic. I will summarize similar developments in cherry and pear, as well as apple rootstocks, that offer significant improvements in production efficiency and consumer quality. When combined with progressive production and handling practices in both organic and conventional systems, such new genetics offer exciting opportunities for Pacific Northwest tree fruit producers.
 2:10-3 p.m. Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative as a model for breeding and trialing vegetable varieties for fresh market organic systems
  • Jim Myers, Oregon State University 
  • The demand for organic food in the United States continues to increase at two to three times the rate of demand for non-organic food. Robust breeding and seed systems are required to provide the varieties needed to support burgeoning demand for fruits and vegetables. It is widely recognized in plant breeding that the best varietal performance is achieved when a variety is adapted to the environment in which it is grown. The Northern Organic Vegetable Improvement Collaborative (NOVIC) project was conceived and organized as a means of increasing the diversity and farmers’ choice of vegetable varieties. The overall goal of NOVIC is to increase the proportion of U.S. agriculture that is managed organically. The NOVIC project seeks to achieve this goal by increasing the number of vegetable varieties tailored to organic systems, and available as organic seed. We have established a national network of organic vegetable breeders and regionally-based organic farmers who work collaboratively with each other that allows us to collectively develop varieties that combine grower-selected attributes that excel in organic systems. The project has three major initiatives: to conduct vegetable trials to identify those adapted to organic systems, to breed improved varieties for agricultural production in each of the five high priority crops, and to provide farmers with the tools to understand and conduct their own breeding programs, and to maintain their own seed supplies of the varieties they use on their farms.
3:10-4 p.m.  A Comparison of Supply Chain Agents' Willingness to Pay for Fruit Quality Attributes
  • Karina Gallardo, Washington State University
  • There is scarce literature comparing preferences and willingness to pay for fruit quality attributes from different stakeholders in the fresh fruit industry, namely growers, packers/shippers, and consumers. Such information is especially important for breeding programs seeking to identify the genetic traits of maximum value to the whole supply chain, in order to develop a breakthrough improved cultivar. Stakeholder groups could have divergent priorities and the consensus is often challenging to achieve. In this study, we designed choice experiments for three above mentioned stakeholder groups, and we elicited willingness to pay for different fruit quality attributes. Results suggest that the level of consensus among stakeholders is contingent upon the specific crop, that is, the production and marketing challenges inherent to each crop. 
4:10-5 p.m. The Local Quality-Food Economy — Panel
  • Torie and Thom Foote, Footehills Farm; Isaac Jahns, Big Sage Organics; Adam Hegsted, chef/owner of the Eat Good Group; Jamie Callison, WSU Hospitality; Jim McFerson, WSU Tree Fruit Research Extension Center; moderated by Jim Baird, Cloudview Ephrata Educational Farm


Lunch and transportation are included for all Friday sessions.

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