Organic certifier Oregon Tilth has agreed to provide funding to Oregon State University's small-farms program so that the university can continue its research and educational efforts for organic farmers.
"This partnership helps to maintain some of the good work that we've seen come out of the OSU Extension Service's small farms program," said Chris Schreiner, the executive director of the nonprofit Oregon Tilth, which educates the public about sustainable agriculture. "Through this partnership, we can leverage the trust, integrity and rigor that exists at OSU to develop a research and education agenda to help support organic farmers."
Garry Stephenson, the coordinator of OSU's small farms program, said that Oregon Tilth brings to the partnership "a deep understanding of organic market trends, the regulatory environment and industry connections."
With the funds, the small farms program will be able to continue offering its eight-week "Growing Farms" workshop series that teaches new farmers about topics like labor, cash flow, marketing, financing, pest management and liability. The workshops this year are in Albany, Newport, Aurora, Central Point and Redmond.
The funding also will enable OSU to continue its research on cover crops on Willamette Valley farms. Nick Andrews, small farms extension agent, and OSU soil scientist Dan Sullivan have been looking at how much nitrogen these cover crops supply to the soil and the crop that follows. They'll use the data to develop an Excel-based downloadable spreadsheet that farmers can use to calculate whether it's more cost-effective to plant a cover crop or just apply nitrogen.
The partnership agreement is renewable every year.
More information about OSU's small farms program is available online at http://smallfarms.oregonstate.edu.