Osborne Quality Seed attended Snohomish County’s 15th annual Focus on Farming trade show event on Thursday November 8th, 2018 where this year’s theme was “Connect, Innovate, and Grow.” Linda Neunzig, the Agricultural Coordinator for the event, stated that this trade-show was originally created as a space for farmers and grower to discuss opportunities, obstacles, experiences, and information.
Focus on Farming has grown in the last 15 years from the 350 people that attended the first event to over 400 attendees, including students from Future Farmers of America (FFA) and Everett School Districts. Students in Everett do not actually have a FFA program, but enough interest was garnered by students for schools to independently organize a trip to the conference. Focus on Farming continues to add more workshops, speakers, and tracks to encapsulate the ever-expanding world of growing. In 2018, this includes 24 workshops divided into six different industry tracks and, for the 4th year in a row, the Focus on Forestry component. Focus on Forestry started after the 2014 Oso landslide to support forest owners in the area.
One of the most notable points of the conference is always the lunch. As a former farmer herself, Linda Neunzig made it a personal goal to showcase local food and give the farmers the opportunity to eat the food they grow the way people in fancy restaurants enjoy it. Over the 15 year history of the conference, six James Beard awarded chefs have demonstrate their lunchtime expertise. Linda says, “the chefs cook as a way of giving back to the Ag community that gives to them.” For the last 8 years, the renowned chef Russell Lowell has led the charge, who “has a catering client list you would not believe!” The lunch team creates a menu from the provided a list of available ingredients sourced from the Puget Sound Food Hub. The produce is always 100% local and easily accessible thanks to the Food Hub’s website. During lunch, a sign is displayed denoting sources of all ingredients.
Osborne Quality Seed has been a part of Focus on Farming since 2011. Since our first visit, we have continuously taken valuable information away and have found ways to apply is to our business and brand. This year, we were able to sit in on a few guest speakers that shared innovating information and viewpoints, and we can’t wait to take and apply what we’ve learned.
Our first presentation we visited was Transferring Our Knowledge to Support The Next Generation with guest speakers Petrina Fisher of Skylight Farms, Alice Vanderhaak of Lowlands Farm, and Libby Reed of Orange Star Farm. During this discussion, topics that were addressed were Women in Agriculture (#WomenWhoFarm), off-farm income, farming and profitability, and how to find your farming system.
Another discussion that we sat in on was by Professor and Vegetable Seed Pathologist, Dr. Lindsey du Toit, who is also a part of the WSU Northwestern Washington Research & Extension Center. During this presentation, we learned about common Brassica diseases prevalent in the Pacific Northwest, but also found in other regions of the United States. Key points that were made in relation to the diseases were the differentiation between fungal, bacterial, and viral pathogens and how to identify each of these types.
We were particularly compelled by Introduction to Dry Farming with guest speakers Amy Garrett, OSU Extension Small Farms Program – Dry Farming Project; Teresa Reztlaff, 46 North Farm in Astoria, OR; and Lucas Nebert, PhD, Moondogs Farm. Amy discussed the overarching vision of the Dry Farming Project: exploring management practices to support crop production without supplemental irrigation in the PNW. Methods include: careful timing of tillage, keeping soil surface loose to conserve moisture in the root zone (i.e. dust mulching), improving soil quality and water retentions with organic matter addition, increased plant spacing, and choosing drought-resistant varieties. Read more here. Teresa recounted personal and inspiring experiences on her farm growing vegetables with less water, and Lucas presented his research on symbiotic microbes in cultivated varieties. The video recording is available on the Focus On Farming web page.
Linda also wanted readers to know that the Hydraweeder showcased at the event is still available for sale for $5,000 with no shipping costs for local buyers. Contact her at 425-388-7170 for more information.
Recordings of the morning keynote presentation and some sessions are available online beginning in early December.
Tradeshows Osborne Quality Seed will be attending:
- Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers Conference (September 24-26, 2018)
- Focus On Farming (November 8, 2018)
- Farm & Food Expo (November 2-3, 2018)
- Washington Tilth (November 9-11, 2018)
- Carolina Sustainable Ag Conference (November 9-11, 2018)
- PNVA (November 14-15, 2018)
- Great Lakes Expo (December 4-6, 2018)
- The Great Plains Growers Conference (January 9-12, 2019)
- SE Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference (January 10-13, 2019)
- EcoFarm (January 23-26, 2019)
- Southern Sustainable Ag Working Group (January 23-26, 2019)
- ASTA (February 1-5, 2019)
- University of Wisconsin Organic Vegetable Production Conference (February 1-2, 2019)
- Texas Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (February 13-16, 2019)
- Organicology & OEFFA (February 14-16, 2019)
- MOSES (February 21-23, 2019)
- Organ Small Growers Conference (February 24-25, 2019)
- COABC (Late February, 2019)
- Alberta Farm Fresh (Late February, 2019)