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Farmers Meet Up in WA as Harvest Season Winds Down

The Tilth Alliance, its Seattle community garden seen above, is bringing together farmers and farmworkers in Yakima this weekend. (CAJC: in the PNW/Flickr)
The Tilth Alliance, its Seattle community garden seen above, is bringing together farmers and farmworkers in Yakima this weekend. (CAJC: in the PNW/Flickr)
November 8, 2019

YAKIMA, Wash. – Washingtonians who work the land to provide their neighbors with food are coming together, as the production season slows down.

The 45th annual Tilth Conference starts today in Yakima and the focus is on "growing a resilient future." Erin Murphy, statewide education coordinator with the Tilth Alliance – the event organizer – says different tracks for the conference include education around sustainability practices, business planning and social justice.

She says many folks have been coming to the conference since its inception.

"Farming is also super isolating and especially with these people coming from all over the state,” says Murphy, “you know, this might be the one time of year actually see each other and see their friends, and get to catch up and have that solidarity, get to vent about their frustrations, pick people's brains about new ideas."

Murphy says the event gathers farmers and farmworkers, as well as researchers, educators and other food-system professionals. It runs through Sunday.

Maureen Darras, director of cooperative development program with the farmworker justice group Community to Community Development, speaks at the event about equity in the food system. She'll discuss the passage of a bill that provides more oversight to the H-2A guest farmworker program, which she says large agricultural companies take advantage of to exploit workers.

Darras hopes the conference can foster a greater connection between small producers and laborers, and that they recognize their common ground in the struggle against industrial agriculture.

"We're both in opposition to this direction that large corporate agriculture is laying out for the food system,” says Darras, “which is importing and exporting workers like a commodity, buying up farmland with low levels of concern for the environment, the products they're producing and the long-term effects on the food system."

Keynote speakers at the conference will touch on how to make small farms successful and revitalizing the coastal food culture for Northwest tribes.

Disclosure: Community to Community Development contributes to our fund for reporting on Human Rights/Racial Justice, Livable Wages/Working Families, Poverty Issues, Sustainable Agriculture. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA