On August 24th, the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides held a producer roundtable event in partnership with Purple Sage Farms in Middleton, Idaho. Attendees were representative of the food supply chain from production to consumer education and product development. Of all attendees, 60% were producers and 40% worked in other areas of the food supply chain.
The event featured a pollinator habitat tour, a potluck dinner, and discussion between organic certification experts, FSA agents, a local extension agent, local producers, and sustainable agriculture advocates. The goal of this event was to discuss the needs of the local sustainable agriculture community to inform the agenda of future NCAP educational events in Idaho.
Of the attendees that were surveyed, overall, they reported an increased knowledge of on-farm pollinator habitat creation, intercropping with flowers, microloans, the Conservation Reserve Program through USDA’s Farm Service Agency, compost tea use, and milling corn. Of the educational training attendees quested, topics ranged from organic practices and certification to soil microbiology, government programs, and agricultural political policy. The attendees also requested more local research in areas including crop price history and demand projections, integrated pest management, how to increase microbial biodiversity in agricultural soils, and the impacts of insect diversity in vegetable crop production.
Every attendee reported that they found value in meeting with members of the sustainable agriculture community to discuss what is and is not working and that they had met at least one new member of the sustainable agriculture community during the event.
Of all of the topics discussed, one overarching theme was that “everything starts at policy” and attendees showed an interest in how U.S. politics influences agriculture. One potential educational event that could be developed from this is a Farm Bill 101 session covering everything from the politics, the players, and the local farmers who have had funding from Farm Bill programs.