2011 21.4 A Message From The President

Tilth Producers of Washington Board President

I find that growing crops and growing an organization have parallels. The long cool spring made growth here at Tilth Producers seem slow, but now there is a good harvest underway.


Tilth Producers is truly a unique organization. Growers from across the state make up the majority of our Board of Directors. This puts folks on the farm at the helm of our work on sustainable and organic farming issues. Tilth Producers is the voice of organic agriculture in Washington because we are organic agriculture in Washington. A working board made of busy farmers, however, also poses challenges to our staffing and programs that we must address.

The organization is at an important stage in its staff and board development. In the coming year, we plan to hire an Executive Director and build nonprofit management skills among our Board of Directors. Our amazing staff members, Nancy, Kelsey and Randi, are doing a great job, but they cannot keep up with all we are asking of them. In addition, we are transitioning from a working board model that charges board members with running all of our programs, to a governing board model that empowers board members to manage the organization.

We have an upcoming Board of Directors election and are looking for folks with experience in fundraising, leadership development, computer technology, nonprofit management, human resources and, of course, organic and sustainable farming to join the board. We are especially in need of more Eastside board members. If you have the time, energy, and enthusiasm to become a board member and want to learn more, please call me or another board member.

I invite all of you to join us in electing new board members during our annual membership meeting at the Yakima Convention Center on Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 8:45 am. (We encourage you to attend the meeting regardless of whether you register for the conference.)

37th Annual Conference

Conference registration is now open and packets have been mailed out to members! If you haven’t received yours yet, please visit the Tilth Producers website and learn more on page 8. Our conference theme is “Designing Resilient Farms for a Changing Planet.” The event focus is on creating farms, ranches, and orchards that adapt to changes in climate, markets, technology, and regulations.

Our Friday agenda has four symposia, including a farm tour to Tieton, a session on policies affecting small and mid-sized farms, and a session focused on fire blight and spotted winged drosophila. I’m excited about the thirty workshops we’ve put together for Saturday and Sunday and the concurrent Spanish language track. I hope you can join us for a weekend of building farmer know-how and networking.

WOW! Washington Organic Week

Governor Gregoire has proclaimed the second week in September Washington Organic Week! Tilth Producers hosted multiple events over the week to promote Washington organics, including an organic cocktail contest, an organic beer and chocolate tasting, and Forks Up for Farmers, in which participating restaurants cooking organic meals donated a percentage of their evening profits to us. Thanks to sponsorships from retailers, wholesalers, and packing sheds we ran “Buy Washington Organic” ads on the radio, in print, and on Seattle Metro buses. In addition, we created materials for consumers that describe the benefits of Washington organics. We have a supply on hand, so please contact us if you’d like some for your business. Tilth Producers made a good splash with this year’s Washington Organic Week and we’re looking forward to doing even more in 2012.

Farm Walks

Tilth Producers and WSU Small Farms co-hosted eleven outstanding farm walks this season. Hundreds of farmers and interns learned about creating value-added products, farming with draft horses, GAPs, current WSU research on strawberries, farm system diversification, and large scale composting from experienced growers and researchers. Visit our website for past farm walk booklets if you missed out on any.


Many Tilth members identify policy concerns as their highest priority for our organizational service. We have responded by hiring our first policy intern, Ariana Taylor-Stanley. Ariana keeps us up-to-date on policy issues, makes necessary phone calls, and writes letters on behalf of Tilth members. She is also organizing the half-day Annual Conference Policy Symposium. Keep a look out for relevant policy information our new policy blog, which is in the formative stages on the Tilth Producers website.


It has been a challenging year for fundraising, but we have great support from our members. Thank you for pulling us through last year – we rely on you and sincerely appreciate your support.

Tags: Board of Directors, Buy Washington Organic, Conference, Diane Dempster, Fundraising, Policy Intern, President, WOW!