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2007: banner year for Oregon Tilth

A summary of Oregon Tilth's outreach and advocacy for 2007

Compiled by Chris Schreiner

In 2007, Oregon Tilth experienced noteworthy growth in all our programs. Now that we are entering 2008, it is worth a moment to pause and reflect on our amazing year.

Certification developments

In 2007, the Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO) program experienced substantial growth, granting certification to over 200 new applicants. OTCO continues to provide assistance with access to emerging international markets including Europe, Japan, Canada and Korea. A two-person Midwest office was established in Viroqua, Wisconsin and a Latin American Specialist was added to staff. In the summer of 2007, OTCO began using the Global Organic Textile Standard for its Organic Fiber and Textile Handling certification program, becoming the first U.S.-based certifier to offer certification to this internationally developed and recognized standard.

Organic Education Center

The Organic Education Center (OEC) took over management of a one-acre parcel along Johnson Creek in SE Portland called Jean’s Urban Forest Farm. This new small farm site offers a unique riparian setting, close proximity to the city center, and easy access via public transportation.

OEC began as a collaborative project with the City of Lake Oswego, located at the City’s Historic Luscher Farm. In 2007, over 25 different annual crops were grown in the Luscher Farm demonstration garden and harvests were donated to the Christie School and several Portland-area emergency food shelters. Over 620 people participated in garden-based education through service learning, field trips, farm tours and classes. Visitors included over 100 participants in Metro’s Garden of Natural Delights Tour, as well as guests from Korea and Chile.

Outreach and education

By participating in fairs, conferences, educational events and trade shows throughout the nation, Tilth’s staff have shared their expertise with diverse audiences. 2007 saw educational workshops and presentations at: Sierra Club Portland Chapter (Portland, OR); Ecological Farming Conference (Pacific Grove, CA); Local Food Connection (Eugene, OR); Refrigerated Foods Association Annual Meeting (Houston, TX); Farmer-Chef Connection (Canby, OR); OSU Organic Training (Corvallis, OR); Clark Pest Control Food Safety Continuing Education Conference (Modesto, CA); Lane Community College Farm Business Management Program (Eugene, OR); Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association meeting (Palm Beach, FL); Clatsop County Master Gardeners (Astoria, OR); Pacific Seed Association meeting (Portland, OR); American Society of Brewing Chemists (Victoria, BC); Sustainable Today local access TV show (Portland, OR); KMUN 91.9 fm radio interview (Astoria, OR); Men’s Apparel Guild of California trade show (Las Vegas, NV); First Alternative Coop (Corvallis, OR); Salem City Club (Salem, OR); Soil and Water Conservation Society Annual Meeting (McMinnville, OR); Master Vegetarian Program (Portland, OR); Business of Organic conference (San Francisco, CA).

Tabling

Additionally, Tilth staffers tabled at the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference (La Crosse, WI); Natural Foods Expo West tradeshow (Anaheim, CA); Family Farmed (Chicago, IL), Clackamas Community College Sustainability Fair (Oregon City, OR); Woodlawn Park Earth Day Celebration (Portland, OR); Wisconsin Grazing Conference (Stevens Point, WI), MN Sustainable Farming Association (St. Peter, MN), Oregon Ag Fest (Salem, OR); All Things Organic tradeshow (Chicago, IL); Kickappoo County Fair, (La Farge, WI), Green Festival (Chicago, IL and San Francisco, CA); Clackamas County Garden Fair (Canby, OR); Oregon Country Fair (Veneta, OR); Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting and Food Expo (Chicago, IL) and ACRES (Louisville, KY).

Partnerships and alliances

Last year we continued to establish strong alliances and solid working relationships with many important regulatory, education, and public interest organizations. Highlights include:

Salmon Safe, a non-profit organization working to restore watersheds so salmon can spawn and thrive. www.salmonsafe.org.

Oregon Center for Environmental Health’s Healthy Food in Healthcare initiative employs market-based forces to increase demand for sustainably produced foods, improve hospital food quality, and bolster the local economy, www.oregon-health.org.

Oregon State University’s (OSU) Organic Agriculture Program, including representatives from OSU Extension, the Integrated Plant Protection Center and OSU Departments of Horticulture and Animal Sciences, www.hort.oregonstate.edu/OrganicAgPrograms.

Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Resource Center, a project to develop one-stop access to resources related to sustainable agriculture.
The Oregon Environmental Council’s “Growing Stronger” project, strengthening constructive voices in agriculture and the environmental community through policy development and implementation.
www.oeconline.org/farmers.

For the past four years, Oregon Tilth has provided supporting funds to the Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility Campaign for Safe Food,
www.oregonpsr.org/programs/campaignSafeFood.html.

Together with Organically Grown Co., Oregon Tilth has co-sponsored the Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange, providing a forum for professional growers to exchange information.

Council of the Oregon Organic Coalition (OOC). Formed in 2005 to represent all sectors of the organic community in Oregon.

Oregon Tilth is on the Board of the Cascade Pacific Resource Conservation and Development Council. The Council works with citizens of rural communities to enhance their quality of life through social, economic and environmental improvements, www.cascadepacific.org.

We are a supporting member of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, www.sustainableagriculture.net, and the Western Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, www.westernsawg.org. These groups represent diverse partnerships of individuals and organizations cultivating grassroots efforts to engage in policy development processes that result in food and agricultural systems and rural communities that are healthy, environmentally sound, profitable, humane and just.

All the while, we offer our expertise in the rulemaking process for the USDA National Organic Program by attending meetings of the National Organic Standards Board, providing public comment on important topics and participating in national events concerning organic standards.

Oregon Tilth serves on the Board of Directors for the Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA). The ACA is a non-profit educational organization created to benefit the USDA accredited organic certifier community and the organic industry, www.accreditedcertifiers.org.

Oregon Tilth continues to provide partners at the USDA Economic Research Service, www.ers.usda.gov/Briefing/Organic. and Washington State University’s Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources, www.csanr.wsu.edu/Organic. with data from our organic certification program. Researchers use this data to compile statistics and reports characterizing trends in organic agriculture and food sectors, both nationally and in the Pacific Northwest.

In support of a USDA Risk Management Agency grant received by the Organic Seed Alliance, Oregon Tilth was one of several partners that contributed to the creation of a guide and resource manual for on-farm organic seed research and variety trialing, published in the summer of 2007. See
www.seedalliance.org.

Oregon Tilth is much more than a certification agency. We strive everyday in support of our mission statement through creative advocacy and alliances.


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