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WSU Seeks Solutions for Farms and Environment

PULLMAN, Wash. — Two Washington State University scientists have received a grant for a three-year research and educational effort to bridge the historic gap between environmentalists and farmers.

Their projects are part of a $700,000 grant from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation to Farming and The Environment, a community-based coalition. Peter Goldmark, Farming and The Environment board chairman, praised these efforts to “address significant environmental issues in ways that would ensure a healthy farm economy.”

Marcia Ostrom, a WSU Cooperative Extension leader for small-scale agriculture and local food systems, in Puyallup, and Shulin Chen, a biological systems engineer, in Pullman, will lead WSU’s research and education efforts.

Ostrom, said bridging that gap will require “new and different approaches.” She will survey Washington farm operators about production and marketing practices and environmental stewardship. She will then survey consumers and interview potential buyers, retailers and distributors. In the third year, she will conduct four regional food systems workshops on how to strengthen “Buy Washington” efforts.

Chen will demonstrate the effectiveness of no-till farming to reduce erosion and improve water quality for Pacific Northwest salmon habitat. He says the Northwest wheat and range region of Washington, Idaho and Oregon, encompasses eight million acres with highly erodible soil.

“Southeast Washington alone produces 10.3 million tons of soil erosion each year. Of that, 1.7 million tons winds up as sediment in streams,” Chen said. “There is a great potential to minimize environmental impact by adopting conservation land management practices in this region.”

Jim Zuiches, dean of the WSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics, said, “Each project addresses a crucial issue in creating an economically viable food system and healthy environment, better local opportunities for small-scale and small-farm producers, and reduction of costs and soil loss to producers of the Palouse.

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Media Contacts

Peter Goldmark, Farming & The Environment chair, 509-422-3929
Vim Wright, Farming & The Environment vice-chair, 360-336-3974
Bob Rose, Farming & The Environment secretary-treasurer, 360-336-3974
Marcia Ostrom, WSU, 253-445-4512
Shulin Chen, WSU, 509-335-3743