Speakers will explore valley’s challenges, opportunities in ag
The Methow Conservancy will put the spotlight on local agriculture with two events next week, one open to the public and the other organized specifically for valley farmers.
On Wednesday (Feb. 14), the Conservancy hosts “Rural Changes: Building a Resilient Agricultural Future” at the Winthrop Barn. The free event starts at 7 p.m.; doors open at 6:30 p.m. No registration is required.
The keynote address will be delivered by Sen. John Tester of Montana, the Senate’s only working farmer and a rare Democrat representing that state.
Also speaking will be University of Washington Professor of Earth and Space Sciences David Montgomery.
Montgomery has some familiarity with the valley. Last October, he and co-author Anne Bicklé spoke to a full house at the Barn about their research and current publication, “What Your Food Ate,” a book about how soil health is intrinsically linked to human health. Montgomery has studied how soil erosion has brought down past civilizations and wants to change agricultural practices to protect soil in the future.
The speakers will share perspectives on how farms can be both resilient to economic and ecological change and how farms can be a part of solutions to the environmental problems the world faces, according to a Conservancy press release.
Montgomery is also the author of the books “Growing A Revolution,” “The Hidden Half of Nature,” “Dirt,” and others. He will explore “an inspiring vision in which agriculture becomes the solution to environmental problems,” according to the press release.
Tester, a three-term senator, is a third-generation Montana farmer and a former schoolteacher. He and his wife, Sharla, farm the same land near the town of Big Sandy, Montana that was homesteaded by his grandparents in 1912.
Tester will talk about his family farm and the choices they have made to adapt to a changing world and economy, and will share his insights into what he sees for the future of farming, according to the press release.
On Thursday (Feb. 15), the Conservancy will present “Practical Opportunities for a Resilient Farm,” a registration-only event, at the Winthrop Barn from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Preference for the free event will be given to active agriculturalists and agricultural landowners/managers in the Methow Valley.
“Whether they raise carrots or cows (or anything in between), farmers and ranchers will find relevant topics,” according to the Conservancy press release. Several Washington State University faculty members will share climate projections for the Methow Valley and explore some of the farming practices that might help farms navigate the economic and ecological changes ahead, according to the release.
Key topics will include water efficiency/drought resilience; climate projections for the Methow Valley; crop selection for climate resilience; and virtual fencing.
• David Granatstein, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist, Emeritus, Washington State University.
• Chad Kruger, Director of WSU’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources.
• Michael Brady, Assistant Professor and Extension Economist in the School of Economic Sciences, WSU.
• Troy Peters, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Systems Engineering, College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, WSU.
• Edd Townsend, rancher, Board of Supervisors, Okanogan Conservation District.
Other interested parties should contact the Conservancy to see if there is space available.
For information about both events, visit https://methowconservancy.org/news/entry/the-future-of-farming-in-the-methow-valley.