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Agriculture

Winter 2008

A Season for Seeds

STRANGE THINGS sprout in Skagit Valley’s fields: Monster plants with six-foot stalks covered with yellow flowers, delicate ferny-leaved things with round white heads holding hundreds of tiny blossoms, and unruly tangles of leaves, spears, and spikes.

John Roozen ’74, whose family’s name is synonymous with Skagit Valley tulips, keeps careful watch on these fields. He swings his pickup over to the side of the road and dives into a field, a curly, hairy mess of green. He plucks off the tip of a plant and hands it over. See that, he says, pointing at the dozens of small green nuggets clustered along the stem, those … » More …

Winter 2008

An Afghanistan success story

The people of Laghman province in eastern Afghanistan suffered through a severe drought from 1997 through 2001. On top of years of conflict, the drought took an enormous toll on its people. Farmers sold off their cattle as the drought worsened, unable to grow forage or grain to feed them. Then they sold the sheep, then the goats.

Without adequate irrigation, fruit and nut trees withered and died.
By the time the drought eased, Laghman province farmers had lost 70 percent of their livestock. Milk and cheese had traditionally been a major source of protein, and cows served as draft animals as well as … » More …

Winter 2008

Ferdinand’s turns 60

This brief item appeared on the front page of the Daily Evergreen on Monday, October 11, 1948:

Dairy Dept. to Open Counter in Troy Hall

The department of dairy husbandry will start operating a dairy counter serving ice cream, plain and chocolate milk on the first floor of Troy hall near the north entrance.

Assistant professor L. J. Manus will be in charge, assisted by dairy manufacturing students. All products served will be made in the department, and prices will be comparable to those charged downtown.

Later on, when obsolete equipment has been replaced, milkshakes, cheese … » More …

Winter 2008

L’Américain en Provence

A story about an expatriate—and about his wine. Provence is a world away from Bellevue, where Denis Gayte '97 grew up. And French winemaking is another world away from the public relations career he abandoned. So there he was, with his French heritage and a newly minted "young French winemaker" degree—but still referred to (and always affectionately) as l'Américain. » More ...
Winter 2008

Rethinking the Fundamentals

Feeding the world may require us to use old knowledge in new ways. Although the prices of fuel and commodities have dropped since early summer, the volatility of their relationship will surely dog us for the foreseeable future. While stock prices may temporarily overshadow food prices in the public consciousness, some farmers and researchers are looking at different ways of doing business, perhaps moving the land-grant university back to its founding purpose. » More ...
Summer 2006

Uncommon access: Gaylord Mink shifts his focus from viruses to wild horses

Gaylord Mink, hunched over and quiet as a mule deer, picks his way through rugged rangeland near the center of the Yakama Indian Reservation.

Mink stops, straightens, and scans toward Dry Creek Elbow in the distance. Much closer, five wild horses lift their own heads to meet his gaze. They are all well within range.

The small band’s stallion snorts a warning as the nervous mares and a colt seem anxious to bolt. Mink snorts back, and the stallion circles even closer to take up the challenge, dragging his wary entourage in his wake.

Mink is a hunter who doesn’t pack a gun. He shoots … » More …

Spring 2006

Farming in the rain

Farming in the Skokomish River Valley can be a challenge, what with 60 to 80 inches of rain a year. One year, Hunter Farms’s pumpkin fields flooded, the pumpkins bobbing like buoys on a temporary sea. Fortunately, the river receded in time for families across the South Puget Sound region to visit Hunter Farms and cart home their pumpkins.

One of the Hunter family cousins has a letter written by Isaac Woods soon after he arrived in the valley from Iowa in the 1880s. Apologizing that he couldn’t repay the $8.00 he’d borrowed from the recipient of the letter to move west, he complained about … » More …

Summer 2008

Dahlias

When Dan Pearson was eight years old, his father brought a batch of brown tubers home and planted them in the yard. Intrigued, Dan helped tend the vigorous plants that sprang from them and watched them bloom into flashy, brightly hued flowers, some as big as a dinner plate. He memorized the names of all 30 varieties.

The next spring, tickled by his son’s interest, Chester Pearson ’59 planted even more. Their yard was so full of color that cars would slow as they drove by. One day when a car stopped, Dan offered to sell some blooms for a dollar. Pretty soon it was … » More …

Winter 2002

Gardening in the Inland Northwest

If you are a gardener just embarking upon the horticultural journey of growing vegetables or fruit in the Inland Northwest, this book is quite simply the best reference you can find. Tonie Jean Fitzgerald starts out with the basics that every gardener should know about the unique soils and climate of the region. Next she gets down to the specifics of planning and planting a vegetable garden, including how to raise transplants from seed and what varieties perform best in area gardens.

She follows up with a chapter on pest control from pesky insects to damaging diseases, providing sound advice on how to limit the … » More …