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The Organic Center Interview with David Granatstein

The Organic Center has a good interview w/ David Granatstein from WSU (an Oregon Tilth Board member) in its featured scientist section of their newly updated website. It provides a good overview of David's experience and dedication to organic agriculture.

The Organic Center has a good interview w/ David Granatstein from WSU (an Oregon Tilth Board member) in its featured scientist section of their newly updated website. It provides a good overview of David's experience and dedication to organic agriculture.

From the interview:

In 1989, you were hired as the project manager for the Northwest Dryland Cereal/Legume Cropping Systems Project at Washington State University (WSU). What led to that job, and what was the most valuable outcome of that project?

After finishing graduate school, where I had returned from my farming experience to gain more knowledge of soils, I took a job in Minnesota working with farmers facing both environmental challenges (serious groundwater contamination) as well as economic woes (the mid-1980s farm crisis). When I was offered the job back at WSU, I saw it as a chance to return to the region, and work on one of the first sustainable agriculture projects funded by USDA (the LISA program, now SARE). Probably the most valuable outcome was creating a body of knowledge about dryland farming from across a very diverse region that growers could use to look for alternatives to try on their farms. We created a database of 100 years of dryland research, and rediscovered a number of sound principles for growers to incorporate. Crop rotation was one of the most important, and this can be a challenge in dry regions.

You been involved with the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) since its naissance. What is the goal of CSANR and how do you help achieve that goal?

I was part of a group of faculty envisioning a sustainable agriculture center at WSU, after watching centers being formed at Iowa State University (Leopold Center) and UC Davis (SAREP). We had a critical mass of interested faculty and supportive administrators. The Center was established by the state legislature, but no funds were provided. I was hired as the first full-time person to work in the Center, and started from scratch. Over time, we have tackled a number of issues, had our successes and setbacks, and are now well established within the University. Our goal was, and is, to enhance sustainability of agriculture in the state. While I don’t expect we will ever fully achieve that goal, the Center has made important contributions in areas such as climate-friendly farming, soil quality, small farms, and organic agriculture. Most of our work is in research and extension rather than in the classroom with students.

Read the rest of the interview with David Granatstein...

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