was billed as the first-ever small farms field day at the WSU Puyallup
Research and Extension Center. But, small farms program director
Marcy Ostrom is quick to point out that for most of its 100-plus
years the Center has been serving small-scale growers.
'When this center opened, all the farms in the area were small-scale
family operations,' Ostrom said.
70 people turned out on a muggy July afternoon for the first
day hosted by Ostrom's small farms program. The audience even included
a group of students from an environmental science class at the
of Washington's Tacoma campus.
They came to observe and learn about the results of field trials
on nitrogen management using a variety of soil amendments, non-chemical
control of the carrot rust fly and results of trials with inter-planted
was information the growers themselves had requested, according
to the program's Rich Hines.
nice thing about it is the day's agenda was based on what local
small farmers told us they wanted in community meetings and focus
groups,' he said.
Attendees listened as scientists and researchers at the Puyallup
facility explained their field trials, and tromped through nearly
six acres of test plots to observe the results. They also observed
a demonstration of a basket weeder that quickly uproots small weeds
between row crops, and saw a flame weeder designed to kill weeds
before a crop emerges.
Puyallup soil scientist Craig Cogger explains the basics of
nitrogen availability and uptake before leading small farms
field day participants into a plot of sweet corn to see field
The agricultural newspaper Capital Press referred to the event
as 'sort of a coming out party' for the WSU small farms program,
and reported it signified a reaffirmation of WSU's commitment
to small-scale growers on the west side.
The program was created and funded by the state legislature in
2000 to provide support for the rapidly growing number of small-acreage
farmers, particularly in urban areas.
Carkner, a small-acreage farmer in the Puyallup Valley and big
supporter of the program, agreed that the field day was a milestone.
'I'm glad to see that it's finally happened,' she said.