San Juan County’s Agricultural Summit returns in March

  • Sun Jan 28th, 2018 5:44pm
  • Life

The sixth annual San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit will take place on Lopez Island on March 16 through 17. Grow inspiration at this gathering of over 150 local farmers, food producers, businesses, and food advocates for two days of events, education and camaraderie in our local food community.

Agriculture in the San Juan Islands is gaining momentum strength, but there are still many challenges to overcome. Value of San Juan County agricultural products increased 35 percent from 2002 to 2012, according to the United States Department of Agriculture Census. While there are many challenges to farming in San Juan County to overcome, farmers are producing more food than they were a decade prior, and they are making more money doing it.

The San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit is the only annual event in the islands that brings local farmers, food producers, businesses and food advocates together with national, regional and local experts. It is well on its way to creating a more sustainable local food system and the Agricultural Summit provides a place where islanders can gather to learn from regional experts and network with each other. Last year, 80 percent of respondents indicated that they would make a change to their enterprise because of the Summit.

To maintain and increase this positive momentum, the summit needs more education and networking opportunities for farmers, food producers, businesses and local food advocates. When the local food system prospers, everyone wins. The San Juan Islands Agricultural Summit is the only annual event in the islands that brings local farmers and food and farm advocates together with national, regional and local experts for two days of education, networking and inspiration. The purpose of the summit is to unify, inspire and inform participants so that together the community can continue to grow the local food network.

The 2018 summit is led by San Juan County Washington State University Extension with support from farmers and the collaborative event organized by a number of hard-working local organizations. However, to provide need-based scholarships and keep this event affordable for all, organizers still rely on donations from sponsorships to cover part of the budget. Sponsors are essential to making the event sustainable year after year.

Schedule of events:

Friday morning and afternoon will consist of several hands-on workshops in a variety of locations on Lopez Island. More information is to come.

The whole community is invited to the always-delicious Taste of the San Juans at the Lopez Community Center on Friday evening. Enjoy small bites from your favorite chefs in the county in this fun and family-friendly event. Entrance to the events costs $5 and a tasting ticket is available for an additional $2.

On Saturday, gather to learn and be inspired at Lopez School. This year there are 16 sessions in four different tracks including production, marketing and finance, perspective, and agricultural programs and policy. Sessions include adding value to local products, wireworm research and solutions, and an update on the San Juan County Food Hub and more. Schedule of sessions will be available Feb. 1. Breakfast and lunch are included in admission.

Social hour at the grange begins after sessions have ended. Join friends new and old for refreshment and good company at the summit social.

Registration for Friday workshops and Saturday Sessions will launch Feb. 1. Friday workshops are $25, Saturday sessions are $70 in advance or $80 at the door. Sign up for Saturday on or before Feb. 15 and save $15.

Scholarship and work-trade available. Applications will be accepted starting Feb. 1.

New this year is the networking room. A lot of the best learning comes from the chance to dive deeper. To that end, the event will have a dedicated room for informal conversation and meetings throughout the day.

Make an investment in our local agricultural community by becoming a sponsor. Contact Ag Summit Coordinator Rhys Hansen for more information about sponsorship packages.

For more information, visit https://goo.gl/LF6Bm8 for the latest information, email sji.agsummit@wsu.edu, or call 360-370-7667.

Reasonable accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities and special needs who contact sji.agsummit@wsu.edu or 360-370-7667 at least two weeks prior to the event. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.