'Farm Wisdom' helps growers with cost-saving measures, regulations

By STEVE BROWN

Capital Press

Jennifer Belknap has seen her aptly named Rising River Farm inundated several times since she joined the operation in 1997.

The Chehalis River is notorious as a fickle neighbor, but Belknap has learned lessons from each incident. Storage areas are ready to receive the farm's equipment, and flood insurance has been upgraded.

"When we know it's gonna flood, we have a couple of different places to move vehicles," she said. "When the (January 2009) flood was threatening, we harvested everything. ... We assume this will happen every year."

Belknap shares her story freely with anyone who asks, but not everyone can come to her farm. The Washington State Department of Agriculture has made her experience -- and others' experience -- available on YouTube.

The five-minute video on "Flood Preparation and Recovery" is one of 11 in the Farm Wisdom series, funded by a grant from the USDA Risk Management Agency.

Patrice Barrentine, outreach and education coordinator at the WSDA's Food Safety and Consumer Services Program, "ran the whole program, set up farm tours and managed all the elements," said Sue Davis, a colleague of Barrentine.

Davis reviewed the footage and worked to make sure the stories were complete. Production and camera work were done by contractors, WSDA staff or partner organizations, Davis said.

The videos have been viewed more than 2,200 times, she said, and feedback has been positive. "People are pleased to access information in a convenient time frame for them. They don't have to be at the workshop."

Topics range from alternative energy on small farms to poultry processing facilities that meet WSDA licensing requirements.

The overall theme of the video program is to help farmers gain insights on what it takes to implement cost-saving measures or comply with regulations, according to a WSDA news release.

All the videos are accessible through the WSDA website -- http://agr.wa.gov -- by clicking on the YouTube logo in the upper-right corner.

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