Local WSU Extension strengthening agriculture connections in Thurston County

Posted on behalf of Washington State University (WSU) Extension of Thurston County.

We envision a vibrant farming community, delicious fresh local food and beverages, an interlinked economy of producers, processors, brewers, distillers, bakers, restaurateurs, and practical agricultural research and education. The agriculture program at the WSU Thurston County extension office is proud to work on these issues with a diverse group of partners and organizations in South Puget Sound.

In 2017, the WSU Extension agriculture program in Thurston County is enthusiastic about several initiatives:

Join us at the 2017 Cascadia Grains Conference (January 6-7)

Once again WSU extension is working with a diverse, talented group of partners to put on the Cascadia Grains Conference. Our local office is coordinating the  “Economics of Grain” panel discussion on Saturday, January 7; and an equipment track gathering on Friday, January 6, for which we’re assembling a full-scale array of grain production equipment, and four expert grain producers to talk about equipment and how-to’s for establishing a grain enterprise in western Washington. Two other great options for Friday are the brewing and distilling tour, the hands-on baking workshop, and the pairing dinner at the Schmidt House. Register at cascadiagrains.com.

Craft brewing and distilling barley trials proposed

WSU Extension submitted a grant proposal to evaluate barley varieties for the craft brewing and distilling industries to support community-wide efforts to establish a Craft Brewing and Distilling Hub in Tumwater. If funded (keep your fingers crossed), we’ll utilize a breeder-extension-farmer-craft brewer/distiller collaboration to evaluate barley varieties for organic production and value-added processing. We hypothesize that unique flavors exist among the diverse germplasm in the WSU barley breeding program that will be of interest to craft maltsters, brewers and distillers. Nine barley breeding lines and/or varieties will be evaluated for valuable agronomic and end-use characteristics important to maltsters, brewers, distillers and farmers.

Small Farm and Ranch Management Class begins January 11

We’re very excited to offer this quarter-long class, January 11 – March 22, which provides practical information about whole farm planning, ecologically-based, diversified production systems, and alternative marketing techniques. Students will gain knowledge of the practical aspects of sustainable small acreage production systems for a wide variety of enterprises. The course involves guest lectures from local farmers, field trips, as well as classroom instruction. Students will develop a whole-farm plan during the class. Course instructors Lydia Beth Leimbach and Stephen Bramwell have over 25 combined years of experience in professional farming and farm production teaching. Register on our website.

More research and education initiatives!

Other initiatives we are working on for 2017 include farmer workshops (topics such as hoop house construction), a rotational grazing research initiative to co-manage for critical species and livestock production, farm nutrient management planning, and others. For updates, you can sign up for our e-newsletter updates (contact bramwell@wsu.edu), or visit our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/thurstonextension/) or visit WSU Thurston County agriculture program website (http://extension.wsu.edu/thurston/agriculture/).

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