Tilth: A Conference for Farmers
Farmers are great at embracing what might seem like paradox: for example, taking advantage of modern scientific research in the ancient act of agriculture, or simultaneously using technologies built half a century apart. We even sometimes leave the fields for an event that is usually associated with corporations or sci-fi superfans: a conference.
Tilth Conference 2023 was held last weekend at Fort Worden, and drew agriculture professionals from across Washington State and Oregon. Attendees came from farms, farmers markets, food hubs, farmland trusts, university extensions, seed companies, governmental agencies, and the WSDA Organic Program to talk about equitable food access, alternative business models for farms, making biochar and compost, coping with climate change, and much more. There was a trade show, happy hours, a keynote address, and a banquet, similarly to conferences in other industries.
Also like other industries, we like to honor those who are doing especially good and important work. Nyema Clark, founder and director of Nurturing Roots Farm in Seattle, was recognized as Advocate of the Year for her efforts in addressing food justice issues in her community. Not only does her farm produce fresh, healthy, nutritious, and culturally relevant food to underserved people using sustainable and regenerative farming practices, it also seeks to educate, empower, and re-engage the people around her. Her inspirational story is a reminder that food is more than something you eat.
And we certainly enjoyed the food served during the conference! The Fort Worden kitchen brought in veggies, condiments, and beverages from many local producers, and even made Red Dog radishes the star of a particularly colorful salad.
Overall, this event was a fun way to catch up with old friends, make new connections, learn about helpful resources, and, most importantly, become re-inspired by farming. In day-to-day work, you don’t always think about all the big-picture good that food can bring, from environmental conservation, to cultural preservation, to economic prosperity, to social justice.