From the marble halls to the field: Ben Barasky visits Local Roots Farm

Last April, Tilth Producers of Washington and the Northwest Farm Bill Action Group, in partnership with the Washington Young Farmers Coalition, hosted Congresswoman Suzan DelBene for a listening session and tour of Local Roots Farm. She liked it so much that she sent her D.C.-based agriculture staffer, Ben Barasky, to the district for his own tour this month.

The tour, in pictures:

Siri Erickson-Brown and Sam Bowhay, owner and manager, respectively, of Local Roots, welcomed Ben and a few other local farmers.


wireworm leeks
We headed to the fields to talk about the farm’s growing practices, including pest management. Field Manager Sam is considering applying for support from a farm bill research program like the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension (SARE) grant program or the new Crop Protection and Pest Management (CPPM) program’s Integrated Pest Management funding to find an organic control for wireworms.


food safety
In the farm’s processing area, Sam showed Ben the farm’s Food Safety Manual, a response to the forthcoming food safety regulations proposed by the Food and Drug Administration in compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Adjusting to new food safety regulations is expensive and time consuming –  Sam spent over 40 hours this winter learning about food safety regulations and creating the manual – so we are glad to see funding in the latest federal budget for the new Food Safety Outreach Program.


This season-extending greenhouse was funded by a Specialty Crop Block Grant administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Ben was impressed to see the impacts of this program, which he worked on farm bill language for, in person.


The full diversity of Local Roots’ crops is on display in the starts greenhouse. We discussed how diversification acts as a form of risk management for farms, talked about the need for more projects like that at Hearty Roots Farm in New York to make farm bill programs work better for diversified farms, and the pros and cons of Whole Farm Revenue Insurance.


The tour wrapped up with some local bounty for refreshments and casual conversation on the farm pad.


local roots
Thanks to Local Roots Farm, Sam, and Siri for hosting, to Ben Barasky for lending us your afternoon, and to Congresswoman DelBene for supporting sustainable faming!