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Winter conferences focus on workshops, connections

Feb 1st, 2017 | Category: Community, Features
The next Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting meets Feb. 21 at Bellingham Technical College.  It includes a 7 course local lunch from NW Chefs Collective & BTC Culinary Arts program! COURTESY PHOTOS

The next Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting meets Feb. 21 at Bellingham Technical College. It includes a 7 course local lunch from NW Chefs Collective & BTC Culinary Arts program! COURTESY PHOTOS

The winter season in our northwest corner lines up several local agriculture conferences and large events, offering connections and workshops, and a time to discuss industry issues. Some events coming up include the annual San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit, Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting in Bellingham, Skagit Ag Summit, and more.


San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit 2017

The San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit will be held this year at the YMCA Camp Orkila on Orcas Island, Feb. 10-12. The theme for this year’s summit, “Gather & Sow,” highlights community and the sharing of information, and will offer something for farmers, gardeners and food lovers alike.  Workshops, sessions, roundtables, and panel discussions will focus on community issues and ideas.

On Friday, the hands-on workshops include Farm Business Planning and Funding, Permaculture Design for the Farm and Homestead, Managing Soil from Compost to Forage, Food Safety, Seed Cleaning and Production, and others.

Following the workshops, a seed and scion swap will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m., as well as a special “Taste of the San Juan Islands” featuring food from farms and chefs from Lopez, Orcas and San Juan Island from 6:30-9 p.m.

The Saturday sessions begin with a discussion from farmers and researchers including Anne Schwartz (Blue Heron Farm, Rockport), John Navazio (plant breeding program at Johnny’s Selected Seeds), Tom Thornton (Cloud Mountain Farm Center, Everson) and Don Tipping (Seven Seeds Farm, OR). Participants can choose from more than a dozen Saturday sessions led by regional experts: Building a Seed Production Cooperative, Food Safety, Innovations in Local Cuisine, Agricultural Resiliency in the face of Climate Change, Models and Tools for Farmland Access, Pest and Disease Identification and Organic Management, Coast Salish Perspective, and more. Following the sessions, listen in to a panel of local elected officials discussing agriculture.

The Summit will wrap up Sunday morning with opportunities to recap and discuss findings from the Summit through informal discussion groups. This will also be a time for participants to come together and formulate a plan for moving forward.

For more detailed information about the 2017 San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit schedule and to register go to For more information, contact

The San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit 2017 sponsors and partners include the Agricultural Resources Committee of San Juan County (ARC); the San Juan Islands Agricultural Guild; WSU San Juan County Extension; the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC), the Orcas Food Co-op, YMCA Camp Orkila, the San Juan Islands Conservation District, the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau and San Juan County.


Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting

The Northwest Washington Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting, a one-day conference for food and farming businesses of all kinds to connect and network will be held Feb. 21, 2017.

The Trade Meeting fosters connections between regional farmers, fishermen, food artisans, restaurants, grocers, and all others interested in sourcing local ingredients or selling local food. There will be facilitated networking, one-on-one consultations for food buyers and sellers, and a number of educational workshops.

The theme of this year’s conference will be The Future of Local: the power of storytelling and collective marketing. There will be opportunity for local food business owners, from farmers to restaurateurs, to learn how to increase their businesses’ success and resiliency with workshops like: The Power of Many: Co-ops, collectives, and collaborative business structures; The Skinny on Seafood; Packaging and Processing; Direct Marketing & Consumer Education; On-Farm Food Safety Plans; and Growing a Sustainable Restaurant or Grocery. Pricing and registration can be found at The meeting runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at  Bellingham Technical College. For more information, or to register, see


Skagit Ag Summit

The 2017 Skagit Agriculture Summit (SAS) highlights water, labor, land preservation and economic issues. This event, set for Feb. 25 at WSU Mount Vernon NWREC, allows leaders to have a public discussion on issues that are vital to Skagit County and the Washington State economy. The keynote speaker is Jim McFerson, who has been the manager of the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission since 1999, and most recently took over as the director for the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center (TFREC) in Wenatchee.

Prices include lunch. The first 100 registrants receive free admission. For more information, visit

For more events and community news updates, see

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