WSU organic farm begins transition to new location
By MATTHEW WEAVER
PULLMAN, Wash. -- Construction of the Harvest Pavilion, a 24-foot-by-64-foot building at the new Eggert Family Organic Farm, is slated to begin later this summer.
The pavilion will be the heart of operations on the 30-acre farm, said Todd Beyreuther, assistant research professor in sustainable design and engineering.
The organic farm's current 4 acres in the Tukey Horticultural Orchard will likely stay in production for another year or two, said Lynne Carpenter-Boggs, associate professor of sustainable and organic agriculture.
About 17 acres of the new farm are already being managed organically, a 8 acres have been certified. The entire 30 acres will be certified, Carpenter-Boggs said.
The organic farm will produce alternative energy using a windmill, photo-voltaic panels and anaerobic digestion and possibly producing biodiesel, Carpenter-Boggs said.
The farm will maintain 4-5 acres of intensive vegetable production and a Community Supported Agriculture Program with weekly pickups. The farm will include orchards, berries, grains and pasture land for sheep and poultry.
The first vegetables will be planted in 2015. The orchard is being established.
Agriculture research technician Stewart Higgins led the development of the three-quarters-acre orchard, which has edible crabapples, apples, European pears, cherries, peaches, prunes and apricots.
The orchard is high-density commercial production with six cultivars of apples to provide a wide range of maturity for the CSA.
Higgins' goals include seeing how far the farm can go to minimize inputs to the orchard.
"How little fertilizer can we get away with, to what extent do we let the trees take care of themselves," he said, noting the 18-feet-by-15-feet spacing between the trees is relatively unusual.
Farm workers will prune the trees, he said, but wild trees in the area show "they need a lot less attention than we tend to think, and we want to figure out just how little attention can they get away with."
Carpenter-Boggs said the long-term water supply in the region is declining as the Palouse Aquifer is dropping.
"We're taking much more seriously our water and energy use, and seeing how much of this we can supply on-farm," she said. "As this establishes, we want it to be as self-supporting and sustainable as possible."