2012 22.2 A Message from the President

Tilth Producers of Washington Board President


Tilth Producers has a great generational mix on its Board of Directors and everyone is working hard setting annual program activities. New members have jumped right in and are bringing fresh ideas and energy to the organization.

Early in the year, both Eddie Hill and Cristina Alvarez-Ruiz discovered they had too many other obligations and resigned from the Board. We are sorry to see them go, but understand that not everyone has enough volunteer time to devote. Our by-laws permit the appointment of new members to replace vacated seats. Appointed members serve a one-year term and are eligible for election at the following annual meeting. Maurice Robinette and Becky Warner recently accepted our invitation to serve on the Tilth Producers Board.

Maurice Robinette will serve on our Research and Policy committees and is a third generation rancher in the southwest corner of Spokane county. He has worked on Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network’s GMO campaign. Maurice’s oldest daughter has a degree from Fairhaven College in sustainable agriculture and does all of the marketing for the ranch. His younger daughter is studying religion and political science at Puget Sound University. And according to Maurice, his wife “keeps it all working”.

Becky Warner is new to farming and has interned at Laughing Crow Farm, Butler Green Farms on Bainbridge Island, and Oxbow Farm in Carnation. Becky is the co-founder of City Grown Seattle (www.citygrownseattle.com) and is an organizer with Washington Young Farmers Coalition (www.washingtonyoungfarmers.org). She is an avid bike rider and is learning to raise meat rabbits as a personal project.


At the annual retreat, the Board reconfirmed the goals of Tilth Producers: to grow farmers and farm businesses; to change the prevailing food paradigm from conventional to sustainable; and to expand the health and productivity of Tilth Producers. Board members also updated the annual Strategic Planning Matrix — our road map for accomplishing goals. Working committees began developing annual work plans at the retreat. We owe special thanks to the fine computer skills of our Board Secretary, Halli Winstead.


Tilth Producers is in the process of hiring an Executive Director and plans to fill the position in April. Nancy has done an excellent job as Managing Director, and it is time to take the next step in our staffing needs. Nancy has chosen to stay on as Program Director. We are very grateful that she’ll be staying with us and for all the hard work she does.

We will also be hiring a new Program Assistant this spring. Kelsey will be leaving the Tilth Producers staff to pursue her teaching career full-time. Kelsey’s talents forged us a new website, improved PR materials, new program and event partners, and so much more. She is also responsible for the huge success of the Silent Auction at the 2011 Conference. Many thanks and best wishes, Kelsey!


Expenses have been steadily increasing. We are in the midst of a transition from volunteer labor to hired staff to accomplish the goals we’ve identified in the strategic planning process. The new Executive Director position will largely include fundraising to address the financial needs for achieving Tilth Producers’ goals. Our income in 2011 was generated by donations, sponsorships, member dues, the annual conference, and advertising. Unfortunately, grant income was down this year. We are being frugal with our budget and have an aggressive fundraising plan.


We continue to apply for grants and are presently awaiting award notifications on submissions from USDA. We are also hosting fundraising events such as the dinner coordinated by our Policy Committee on March 24th and a gala planned for later this summer. Additionally, we expect continued success in securing conference sponsorships and individual donations.


The 2012 Annual Conference will return to Fort Worden in Port Townsend and we are planning a great line-up of speakers and workshops. We look forward to seeing you all there.

The Research Committee is partnering with WSU to create an endowment for research on issues relevant to organic production. This is a unique way to provide funds for increased organic research without taxing organic producers. The committee is also strategizing about tools we can use to disseminate existing research.

We are planning four new outreach events this year designed to familiarize non-Tilth members with our organization. The events will be in both Western and Eastern Washington and more details will be coming soon. We will also continue our sponsorship of Washington Organic Week (WOW) in 2012, encouraging Washingtonians to buy Washington organic products and celebrate the bounty our great growers produce.

It is spring already and we are planting seeds now that will bear fruit for years to come. I am looking forward to an exciting and productive year for Tilth Producers.

Tags: Annual Retreat, Becky Warner, Budget, Committies, Diane Dempster, Fundraising, Grants, Maurice Robinette, President, Staffing, WSU