Category: community

National Conference for Women in Sustainable Agriculture

I was fortunate to attend this conference over the past few days. It was incredibly heartening to meet so many women who are committed to sustainability in farming. As a very beginner farmer myself, I felt inspired by those that have been working in agriculture for decades. I came away with some great information and wanted so share some highlights!

Nostrana – I was already familiar with this delicious restaurant as a customer, but it was delightful to hear Chef Cathy Whims speak at the capstone lunch about her history with the Farm to Table movement.

Leaping Lamb Farms – Seems like a great farm stay in Alsea, Or. The owner Scottie Jones is also the founder of Farm Stays US, which is an incredible resource. She also mentioned a great reservation platform for websites, called ResNexus.

North Fork – Another farm stay, this one is directed by a woman named Ginger Edwards in Nahalem, Or.

Pacific Women’s Herbal Conference – A gathering of women in the Cascadia foothills to learn about plants and medicine. Lead by Eversong Evans, a gardener and herbalist in Monroe, Washington.

Emerge – Leadership training for women who would like to hold office.

Fox and Bear – Woman owned Portland Farm.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition – Our voice in Washington D.C. for the sustainable food movement. Made up of over a hundred member organizations.

Out Here – Documentary about Queer Farmers.

Zia Queen Bees – New Mexico apiary that focuses on the rearing of queens with natural longevity. Business is co-owned by Melanie Kirby.

Recommended books: Soil Sisters, The Color of Food, Broad Influence, and Sowing Seeds of Victory.

Home Orchard Society Fruit Propagation Fair

The Home Orchard Society has an annual Propagation Fair at the Clackamas County Fairgrounds. For just $5 (members) or $7 (general) attendees are treated to an amazing collection of cuttings and scions!

I got there right after 10am and there was a line down the block. Entry went pretty quickly once the doors opened. The event was packed! Everywhere you looked people were crowding in to grab the cuttings they wanted. I saw some people with huge bundle-loads that had to have been a foot wide!

Next time I have to remember to bring labels and a permanent marker. Luckily someone nearby was kind enough to share his.

I gathered a small collection, then set them up to start this afternoon. Here’s to hoping they root!


Some of the things I chose:

three varieties hardy kiwi, including red princess

three male hardy kiwis

grapes: concord, venus, reliance seedless, canadice seedless, Himrod seedless, bronx

cherries: lapin, ostheimer weischel, montmorency, sweetheart

persimmon: jiro, fuyu

plum: italian, mirabelle

fig: desert king, negrone

I’m so very excited to see what happens with these!

Tree School 2016 registration

It’s time to register for 2016’s OSU Extension Tree School!

If you haven’t attended in the past, let me tell you about it. This is an annual one day event chock full of classes. Topics include: business management, forestry, fruit trees, pest management, marketing, water resources, dealing with weeds, wildlife, etc!

The first year I went to mostly honeybee classes. Last year I did quite a number of truffle classes, plus one about plant propagation. This year I’m gravitating toward native plants and forest management. I can’t wait! Hope to see you there!

For more information and to register, please check out the web site.

Oregon State Beekeeper Conference 2015

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Oregon State Beekeeper Conference at the Oregon Garden (pictured above) in Silverton, Oregon. The conference included two full days of class presentations and a huge vendor mart, but best of all was a great way to connect with other beekeepers from Oregon and beyond.

During the wine and cheese social on the opening night, Rufus LaLone gave a talk on his project called the Weather Cafe. He is a hobbyist weatherman who approaches meteorology as an art form.

The second and third days were chock full of classes. I will tell you about some highlights below, but please visit this site for a full list of presenters and their courses.

Of all the classes I attended, the one that captured my interest most fully was Pest, Pathogens and Poor Nutrition: Understanding and Mitigating. The presenter, Dr. Ramesh Sagili, is a honey bee researcher for OSU extension. His research on this topic is fascinating. For example, despite hypothesizing that good nutrition would lead to lower nosema spore counts, he found that the spores thrived with good nutrition. However, the better nutrition is still much more beneficial because the well-fed bees still lived longer than those with less nosema and worse nutrition.

I also enjoyed a class called Maximizing Honey Production by Dr. Clint Walker. Even though I am not currently focusing on this particular goal with my own bees, the information he provided was quite useful. He shared data he collected from his geographical area showing the rise and fall in pollen availability throughout the year as compared to the size of the colonies. My biggest take-away from this session was the suggestion to develop and maintain a pollen calendar for your area by watching how much pollen your bees are storing at different times of the year. He recommended Keith Jarret as a great resource for finding out more about pollen supplements for times when you want to feed.

Peter Berthelsen is from an organization called Pheasants Forever, which is not directly related to bees, but made an excellent call to action for everyone who is interested in creating and saving habitat to band together. Emphasizing the current popularity of bees and monarch butterflies, he said the time to move is now. He mentioned a great program designed to incentivize the creation of habitat by landowners. He illustrated how it can actually save a farmer money to convert certain low producing parts of farms to habitat.

George Hansen gave a great presentation on different uses for wax. He included information beyond the common uses of candles and beauty products, also including medicinal possibilities and information about encaustic and installation art.

Additional information gleaned throughout the event included updates as to legislation in our state and country to protect pollinators, lots of resources (some listed below), and the chance to look at bee equipment up close and personal.

I’d recommend this conference to anyone who is interested in learning more about beekeeping!

Resources: — great resource for learning how to make honey wine

Walt Wright — information about swarm prevention

Honeybee Democracy — great book on how honeybees make decisions

Biology of the Honeybee — the “Bible” of bee biology


Know Thy Food co-op and Azure Standard

I attended an event this morning at Know Thy Food (KTF) co-op in SE Portland. I’d never been to the space before; it was small, cute, and welcoming.

You don’t have to be a member of KTF to enjoy shopping in the physical store space, but joining gives you access to their extensive online catalog. You can make orders ahead of time and pick them up once a week at the store. It takes a little more planning, perhaps, but in return you can shop from your own home and just stop by to pick things up that already gathered for you.

I was there today to learn more about Azure Standard, a food distribution company that has monthly drops at the co-op. They heavily focus on organic and health food. I’ve been curious about this sort of shopping for quite a while. Buying food in bulk from suppliers has cost benefits and more directly supports local economy and farmers.

I signed up to join both the KTF co-op and Azure Standard. I’m excited to start on this new adventure!

Example of product listings inside Azure Standard’s huge catalog:



Free bee flower seeds!

As a beekeeper and environmental advocate, I created a project for myself — giving out free bee flower seeds! One of the most important things you can do to help bees is to plant safe flowers they can visit for pollen and nectar.

Please let me know what varieties you would like and how to get them to you. Keep in mind that they are all very different. For example, borage is a super easy self-seeding annual that will spread. (Which is a good thing for my garden, but might not be for yours?) Whereas with Purple cone flowers (echinacea) the same plant will come back every year in the same place. Here’s some information about each of them.

Borage – wikipedia, growing and using, ideas on Pinterest

Lady bird poppy – wikipediacare, Pinterest

Purple cone flower (echinacea) – wikipedia, care, uses, Pinterest

Milkweed – wikipediaseed campaign with lots of info,  care, Pinterest

If you plant some of these seeds, I would love to see photos of your flowers! Please keep in touch so I can share them.

Free event: Urban-Rural Tensions in Oregon

This looks like a very interesting event. See you there?



Contact: Christine Chute, phone 503-851-0322,


The April 11, 2015 event is part of Oregon Humanities’ statewide Conversation Project.

Dallas, OR —February 18, 2015—Every state has a legacy of truths—stories residents tell to explain why things are how they are. When those truths conflict, as they inevitably do, the result is political, social, and cultural tension. In Oregon, tensions manifest themselves as wet versus dry, the valley versus the east side, and, perhaps most fundamental, urban versus rural. What are the ties that bind, or could bind, urban and rural communities to a common future?

This is the focus of “Toward One Oregon: Bridging Oregon’s Urban and Rural Communities,” a free conversation with Ethan Seltzer and Bruce Weber on Saturday, April 11, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. at Buell Grange, located at 5970 Mill Creek Road, just north off Highway 22 between Mile Post 4 and Mile Post 5, in Polk County, Oregon. This program is hosted by Buell Grange and sponsored by Oregon Humanities.  Seltzer is a professor of urban studies and planning at Portland State University. Before joining PSU, he was the land use supervisor for Metro, served as an assistant to Portland City Commissioner Mike Lindberg, was the assistant director for the Southeast Uplift Neighborhood program in Portland, and created and directed a statewide coalition dedicated to improving drinking water quality monitoring and protection throughout Oregon.

Weber is a professor of agricultural and resource economics at Oregon State University and director of OSU’s Rural Studies Program. He does applied research and outreach and teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on rural community economics and policy. Through the Conversation Project, Oregon Humanities offers free programs that engage community members in thoughtful, challenging conversations about ideas critical to our daily lives and our state’s future. To reserve a spot or for more information about this free community discussion, please contact Christine Chute at 503-851-0322 or  Buell Grange will serve chili dinner after the conversation for $6.00.  RSVP to 503-851-0322 or .

Oregon Humanities (813 SW Alder St, #702; Portland, OR 97205) connects Oregonians to ideas to change lives and transform communities. More information about Oregon Humanities’ programs and publications, which include the Conversation Project, Think & Drink, Humanity in Perspective, Idea Lab, Public Program Grants, and Oregon Humanities magazine, can be found at Oregon Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities and a partner of the Oregon Cultural Trust.