WSU Whatcom County Extension

Community Horticulture

WSU Whatcom County Extension        

Resilient Gardening in Western Washington

Thursday, February 8, 2018


Speaker Bios and Abstracts

Keynote: How Gardening Will Save the World

   Gail Langellotto, PhD

Abstract: In a rapidly urbanizing world, gardens will play an increasingly important role in community food security, climate moderation, and biodiversity conservation. In cities, gardens provide important opportunities to interact with the natural world and to experience different edible varieties. This talk will present the latest research on ecosystem services provided by gardens, and tips that you can use to make your garden a lean, mean ecosystem-service machine.

Bio: Gail is an Associate Professor of Horticulture at Oregon State University, where she also coordinates the statewide Extension Master Gardener Program

Imagine Permaculture: Resilient Whole System Design Strategies

   Brian Kerkvliet, Inspiration Farm

Abstract: This talk gives an overview of what permaculture is and some strategies used to implement it on your land. Ethics, concepts, strategies, and themes of design will form a basis of understanding of how to partner with natural systems to create a resilient abundant regenerative system.

Bio: Brian has practical knowledge on utilizing natural systems to bring forth stability and abundance. Permaculture design certified, Brian provides consultations and workshops at Inspiration Farm, focusing on designing a resilient system that provides food, fiber, and medicine while restoring the ecosystem. His enthusiasm to share this with a wider audience shows in all that he does. Inspiration Farm is an 11-acre homestead styled farm founded in 1994.

Apple Tree Care and Cultivar Selection of Cider Apples

   Travis Alexander, WSU Extension Mt. Vernon

Abstract: Cider is the fastest growing segment of the United States alcohol beverage market: production increased 22-fold over the last 10 years. With proper knowledge one can produce cider from almost any apple, including culinary apples like ‘Bramley’s Seedling’ or a dessert apple like ‘Jonagold.’ As demand for cider apples increases, maximizing available resources is valuable. In this session, Travis will provide guidance on cider apple production from caring for the mature tree or selecting a cultivar for desired quality. The tree that produces very bitter fruit in the corner of a lot may be a prime candidate for obtaining high quality cider.

Bio: Travis grew up in Southern California, earned a B.S. in Biochemistry at the University of California, San Diego and an M.S. in Horticulture & Agronomy at the University of California, Davis. His masters’ research was focused on chilling injury in peaches for fresh and canned fruit markets. His doctorate work is focused on the postharvest implications of introducing mechanization in the harvesting of cider apples. Travis is fluent in English and Spanish and currently working on speaking Russian.

Biodegradable Plastic Mulch for Vegetable Production

   Shuresh Ghimire, WSU Extension Mt. Vernon

Abstract: Plastic mulch controls weeds, modifies soil temperature, conserves soil moisture, and increases crop yield and quality. The sustainability of crop production using polyethylene mulch has been called into question since polyethylene mulch is not biodegradable, not readily recyclable, and contributes to pollution. Biodegradable plastic mulch offers a potential solution to disposal issues associated with used polyethylene mulch. This presentation will provide an overview of the large-scale experiments carried out at Washington State University and University of Tennessee on the use of biodegradable mulches in pumpkin and sweet corn production for weed control, crop yield and quality. Current scenario of agricultural plastics used worldwide will also be discussed.

Bio: Shuresh is a Ph.D. student with Dr. Carol Miles in the Department of Horticulture, Washington State University at the Northwest Washington Research and Extension Center. His Ph.D. project focuses on biodegradable plastic mulches for vegetable production, yield and quality, as well as measuring mulch biodegradation in the field over time.

Growing Food in Small Spaces & Raised Bed Gardening

   Anza Muenchow, WSU Extension Island County

Abstract: Growing your own fresh produce can be fun, educational and nutritional. Anza learned early in parenting that kids will be more excited by eating vegetables if they grow it themselves, and having your own small garden makes salads delicious and easy. The many benefits of personal food gardens include physical activity, scientific knowledge, nutrition, and emotional enhancements. In this workshop you will find tips for having a more successful garden this next growing season.

Bio: Anza has taught intensive food gardening for many years in King County and now in Island County. Since working for P-Patch program in Seattle in the 90’s, she has been passionate about small scale and urban gardens and farms. Anza is a former WSU Master Gardener coordinator in King and Island Counties and currently works for WSU Extension building school gardens and community gardens in low income neighborhoods in Oak Harbor. Anza owns and manages a small farm and forest (Maha Farm) on South Whidbey and serves as a supervisor for the Whidbey Island Conservation District.

What a Bee Wants: Managing Your Garden to Mitigate Threats to Native Pollinators

   Chris Looney, Entomologist WSDA

Abstract: Bees are the most important and diverse pollinators in the Pacific Northwest, and are vital to the health of our ecosystems and farms. Despite their importance, wild native bees face a number of threats, including habitat loss, novel diseases, and impacts from invasive species. This session will explore bee diversity and ecology, and the history of bee declines. We will end with the ways urban gardens and farms can provide sanctuary in a landscape that has become increasingly hostile to these important animals.

Bio: Chris received an MS in Entomology from WSU, and a PhD in Environmental Science from the University of Idaho in 2007. He joined the Washington State Department of Agriculture in 2009, where he manages the Olympia Entomology Laboratory. The WSDA Entomology Lab provides identification services for Washington stakeholders, supports exotic pest surveys across the state, and conducts research on exotic insect species. To learn more visit website:

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug: Why We Care

   Bev Gerdman, Entomologist, WSU Mt Vernon Research Station

Abstract: The invasive brown marmorated stink bug, Halyomorpha halys, (BMSB) has caused millions of dollars in damage to both agricultural and ornamental crops in the Mid-Atlantic states with at least a 10-year lag time from first detection until damage was reported. On the west coast it was first detected in Portland, Oregon in 2006 and has since arrived in Washington State. By 2016 reproducing colonies were found in Skagit and Whatcom Counties, as well as in Canada. This session will review identification, biology, and the latest research on managing this newly invasive pest to the Pacific Northwest.

Bio: Bev received her Ph.D. in Entomology from The Ohio State University and is a research entomologist at Washington State University. Her research includes small fruit, seed crops and cut flowers. She has worked internationally with farmers to reduce pesticides and to promote sustainable production methods, as well as focused extensively on invasive agricultural pests including spotted wing drosophila and brown marmorated stink bug.

Planning for Food Access and Sustainability: Variety Selection For Storage

   Jennie Goforth, WSU Extension Skagit County

Abstract: This workshop focuses on increasing access to healthy, affordable foods throughout the winter months. Participants will discover vegetable varieties best suited for food storage and their accompanying preservation methods. Techniques such as freezing and drying will be discussed, with particular attention paid to low-tech storage methods such as root cellaring and other storage microclimates in the home. Food storage is essential for increasing food access in Whatcom County, and incorporating food storage goals into the yearly garden plan is a great way to start the growing season.

Bio: Jennie is the Ideas for Healthy Living Coordinator and Food Safety and Preservation Specialist for WSU Skagit County Extension. She is a long time resident of Finney Farm, which grows, packages, and distributes about 10,000 packages of seed each year at no charge to schools, foods banks, community gardens, low income households, and more. She has been an organic farmer for nearly 20 years, and teaches a range of classes for WSU and Whatcom Community College.

Soil Sampling & Soil Test Interpretation

   Kyle Blair PhD

Abstract: Soil tests can be very useful in diagnosing at treating soils for optimal vegetation growth in your landscape and garden. But what do all of the numbers mean? This talk will focus on taking good samples for laboratory analysis and how to correctly interpret the data once the analysis is complete.

Bio: Kyle is currently the President of Soiltest Farm Consultants, Inc in Moses Lake, WA. He is a soil scientist and has been with the company for 10 years. He teaches introductory soil science at Big Bend Community College. Kyle received a PhD in soil science from WSU. He has worked as a research associate at WSU and lab technician at Brigham Young University (BYU). His past research focused on soil fertility (especially phosphorus), use of legume cover crops in organic juice grape production, and various laboratory method analyses.

Community Garden Panel Discussion

   Marjorie Bell, Local Foodworks
   Kali Krow-Liester, Growing Alliances
   Nicole Oliver, City of Bellingham Parks Department
   John Williams, Christ the King Foodshare Program
   Cordata Community Garden Representatives

This panel will discuss the benefits and challenges of community gardens. Join this session to learn about the importance of local community gardens and how to support a thriving program that empowers and feeds the local community. Bring your questions and ideas for the panel. WSU Community Gardens:
Pictured: John Williams at CTK Farm

Gardening with Youth

   Breanne Bartok, Whatcom Master Gardener

Abstract: This session will discuss strategies for working with youth in outdoor and environmental education settings. Experience a sample lesson, receive tips for maintaining a captive audience, and walk away with the foundation and resources to develop your own outdoor educational lessons!

Bio: Breanne is a WSU Whatcom Master Gardener & Master Composter/Recycler. She has been working with elementary children for several years as a volunteer and an AmeriCorps Food Educator with Common Threads Farm in Bellingham. She has assisted and guest-taught at the Master Gardener Children's Storybook Garden at Hovander Homestead Park. Breanne earned her BA in Environmental Studies & Sustainable Agriculture from Western Washington University, where she implemented permaculture practices and once gave a 40-minute presentation on her love of worm bins.

The Bridge Between the Garden & the Farm: A Focus on Potato Virus Y

   Chris Benedict, WSU Whatcom Extension Agricultural Agent

Abstract: Potato virus Y (PVY) is one of the oldest known plant viruses, has a wide host range, and can have negative impacts for commercial farmers as well as home gardeners. Whatcom County is home to 76% of the seed potato acreage in all of Washington state. Home gardens can host PVY and act as inoculum to adjacent commercial operations. Come learn about the biology and management of PVY, symptoms of PVY, and the impact that it can have on your garden.

Bio: Chris, a diehard Steelers fan, has been kicking dirt around for a bunch of years. He can drive tractor and makes a mean poutine.

Biomulch Study & DIY Composting Tools

   Dave Keller, Whatcom Master Gardener

Abstract: Hear about the lessons learned from Dave’s two-year sheet mulch demonstration project. Including choice of mulch material, irrigation strategies, and plant selection for a demonstration plot. Participants will also get a first-hand look at backyard composting tool prototype: a hand-powered, (hopefully) finger-saving mulch grinding machine.

Bio: Dave is a long time gardener and became a WSU Master Gardener in 2013. He has been conducting a sheet mulch demonstration project at the Hovander Park MG Demonstration Garden in Ferndale, WA for the past two years.



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WSU Whatcom County Extension • 1000 N. Forest St., Bellingham, WA 98225 • (360) 778-5800 •