Garden E-News 12/24/19

Information Compiled by Shannon Maris

Asian Giant Hornet Alert!

The Asian Giant Hornet, mandarinia, has established nest sites in Whatcom County and Nanaimo, BC. These are extremely large hornets, about 2″ long, packing a large stinger. They are aggressive predators of honey bees and other pollinators. 

If you spot one, report it immediately to Washington State Dept of Agriculture,, who will search for and destroy the nest (which is usually underground). Send a photo if possible. 

In placing Giant Hornet traps, use protein-based baits only, (fish, chicken, tinned cat food), as sweet baits will also attract and kill pollinating bees, including honeybees. 


2020 Northwest Washington Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting

When: Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 8:30AM–5PM

Where: Bellingham Technical College, Settlemyer Hall, 3208 Lindbergh Avenue Bellingham, Washington 98225

Who: Open to all food and farming businesses, organizations, and individuals

Price: Early Bird tickets $45 for Sustainable Connections members, $55 for non-members (ends Friday, January 17, 2020). General admission tickets $60 for Sustainable Connections members, $70 for non-members (ends Monday, February 24, 2020 at 11:59PM).

Registration and details at: 

The Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting brings together over 180 farmers, fishers, chefs, grocery buyers, artisans, processors, and distributors interested in sourcing local ingredients or selling local food. It’s one of the region’s leading food and farming business conferences, generating over $1 million in new business-to-business sales each year. The one-day conference provides attendees with valuable networking and connection opportunities, cutting-edge educational workshops, a vibrant expo, one-on-one producer-buyer consultations, and top speakers from around the region.

Gigi Berardi, PhD, journalist and professor of Environmental Studies at Western Washington University, will deliver the keynote address on better connecting consumers to their food, and creating meaningful food experiences and choices within our food systems, from the research and ideas in her new book FoodWISE. Breakout sessions include workshops such as Accessing Seattle Markets, The Buyer’s Toolkit, and Closing the Food System Loop.

One of the biggest highlights of the conference is a seasonally inspired seven-course lunch created by Bellingham Technical College Culinary Arts students and members of the Northwest Washington Chefs Collective as a tribute to local producers and chefs.

Sustainable Connections is proud to offer Spanish translation services for the event, and has scholarships available. For more information, please visit the event website.

Early Bird registration ends Friday, January 17, 2020, with pricing and registration information on Eat Local First.


Birchwood Garden Club’s January Meeting

Where:  Whatcom Museum Rotunda Room, 121 Prospect Street, Bellingham, WA  98225

When:  Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Time:  7:00 PM

Topic: Please join us for our January 2020 meeting with Debra Olberg. The topic will be, “Pruning and Care in the Landscape.”

Please note the date change.

Birchwood Garden Club membership is open to everyone!



May 2 – June 26- 2020, mainly weekends

Learn the skills to work with nature to create integrated Permaculture systems of abundance and productivity! Food, Soil, Shelter, Energy, Water and a lot more: Design strategies and methods for truly sustainable, regenerative human integration with our biosphere.

Curriculum Includes: Permaculture Ethics and Design Principles, Pattern Recognition, Climate Factors and Weather, Water Management, Grey water, Soil, Trees, Earthworks, Bioremediation, Surveying and Mapping, Reading the Landscape. Class format includes lectures, discussions, hands-on activities, videos.


MAY 2-3; MAY 16-17; MAY 30-31; JUNE 13-14; JUNE 22 – 26.


Instructed by, Penny Livingston-Stark of Regenerative Design Institute, Brian Kerkvliet of Inspiration Farm, Bruce Horowitz from Ripe Landscapes, Paul Kearsley from Tera Phoenix Design and additional special guest presenters.




Looking into the future: Getting inside a retiring farmer’s head 


(Hmmmm…. not sure about this.The cost of robotics, the maintenance, the life cycle & material costs……)

What the Future Farm Could Look Like in 2030

As we close in on a new decade, the author takes a stab at what farming will look like ten years from now. Her vision includes changes brought on by climate and the expansion of robotics. Regenerative agriculture plays a major role.



Investing in Regenerative Ag: The Lack of Nutrients in our Food

Greg Shewmaker, TeakOrigin co-founder, takes a deep dive into the nutrient density of food and how it is becoming possible to assess this on the spot.  Listen here


Soil organic matter improves soil structure so that it is more resistant to erosion and is easier to till, resulting in lower energy use and less greenhouse gas output. Soils with good SOM levels are more efficient at absorbing rain­water and storing it for plants to use in dry periods. Studies show that organic systems get around 30 percent higher yields in periods of drought than con­ventional systems due to the increase of SOM and its ability to capture and store water for crops.

SOM is composed largely of car­bon that is captured as CO2 from the air by plants through photosynthe­sis. Published, peer-reviewed meta-studies show that organic farming systems are superior to conventional systems in capturing CO2 from the atmosphere (the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change) and sequestering it into the ground as SOM.

Read the full article here. 


A preliminary study by the Re­search Institute of Organic Agricul­ture, Switzerland, published by FAO, collated 45 comparison trials between organic and conventional systems that included 280 data sets. These studies included data from grasslands, arable crops and permanent crops in several continents. A simple analysis of the data shows that on average the or­ganic systems had higher levels of soil carbon sequestration.

Dr. Andreas Gattinger and col­leagues wrote, “In soils under organic management, the SOC stocks aver­aged 37.4 tons C ha-1, in comparison to 26.7 tons C ha-1 under non-organic management.”

This means that the average differ­ence between the two management systems (organic and conventional) was 10.7 tons of C. Using the accepted formula that SOC x 3.67 = CO2, this means an average of more than 39.269 tons of CO2 was sequestered in the organic system than in the con­ventional system.

The average duration of manage­ment of all included studies was 16.7 years. This means that an average of 2,351 kg of CO2 was sequestered per hectare every year in the organic sys­tems compared to the conventional systems.

In a later peer-reviewed meta-anal­ysis, published in PNAS, that used 41 comparison trials and removed the outliers in the data sets in order not to overestimate the data and to obtain a conservative estimate, researchers reported that organic systems seques­tered 550 kg C per hectare per year. This equates to 2018.5 kg CO2 per hectare per year.

Based on these figures, the wide­spread adoption of current organic practices has the potential to sequester around 10 Gt of CO2, which is the range of the emissions gap in 2020 of 8-12 Gt CO2e per year


The Modern Acre: Outcome-Based Approach to Regenerative Ag

Sara Harper, founder of Grounded Growth, discusses the latest trends in regenerative agriculture and updates us on her membership community.  


Burgeoning Investments in Regenerative Agriculture

Farmers using conventional methods who want to transition into organic still find it hard to get financing from conventional commercial lenders. But burgeoning numbers of alternative sources, such as Iroquois Valley REIT, are popping up around the United States to step in when and where it makes sense — not only financially, but with the goal of supporting efforts to regenerate soil, conserve land, protect air and water, and boost health by eschewing chemicals and providing nutrient-dense food.

A research project sponsored with an innovation grant from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service — and conducted by Croatan Institute, Delta Institute, and the Organic Agriculture Revitalization Strategy — found that there are 127 investment strategies, with assets of $321.1 billion under management, in the U.S. that integrate sustainable food and agriculture either wholesale or as criteria in their investment process. Of those, 70 strategies, with assets of $47.5 billion, include one or more criteria that relate to regenerative agriculture, according to the July 2019 report, Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture across Asset Classes ( Estimates in the report are conservative, meaning there are probably other investments not included in the growing field of regenerative-ag investing.

Read the full article here.


Research, Studies and Science

    Research: How Plants Harness ‘Bad’ Molecules for Good Ends (Duke University)

    Research: How Do You Cultivate a Healthy Plant Microbiome? (University of California – Berkeley)


Sustainable Market Farming blog :

Review of Organic No-Till Farming for small scale farmers (book) by Andrew Mefferd


The Best Way To Build Organic Matter Fast During The Winter 

by John Kempf, Founder of Advancing Ecological Agriculture (AEA)

“Healthy plants can become completely resistant to

diseases and insects.” – John Kemp

The microbiome is an incredibly complex microbial community that has evolved unique symbiotic relationships with plants. 

There are two fundamentally different types of digestive processes occurring in soil systems. In bacterially dominated soils the rapid digestion and release of nutrients is referred to as mineralization. In the mineralization process bacteria digest root exudates and carbon crop residues which have a narrow nitrogen carbon ratio. In this digestive process, they extract minerals from the soil mineral matrix and utilize them to build their own bodies. As their bodies are recycled the minerals are released for plant absorption. 

In a fungal dominated soil, saprophytic fungi decompose crop residues and complex organic material. Fungi are the primary microbes that have the capacity to digest lipids. This fungal digestive process is referred to as humification. The humification process is how we can build soil organic matter quickly and efficiently on a large scale.

and this amazing 8 min. video

What happens when soil biome is fed – without need of fertilizers. Soil building begins in the Fall.


Top 10 Articles in the Raising Regenerative News for 2019

(by percentage of readers)

1. Five Investment Vehicles Changing the Way We Invest in Agriculture

Published by Raising Regenerative on April 22

2. The Green New Deal Wants Farmers to Restore the Land, Not Keep Wrecking It

Published by Fast Company on June 28

3. New Agriculture Sector Guide Launched To Help Financial Institutions Assess Natural Capital Risk

Published by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, April 15

4. Large-scale Regenerative Agriculture is Possible – and Profitable, Says Rizoma

Published in Food Navigator, April 8

5. Growing Regenerative Ag One Investment at a Time

Published by Raising Regenerative, August 28

6. Agriculture: Germ of an Asset Class

Published in the July/August issue of IPE Real Assets

7. How to Get Rid of Carbon Emissions: Pay Farmers to Bury Them

Published by the Wall Street Journal, September 11

8. Soil Wealth: Investing in Regenerative Agriculture Across Asset Classes

Published by the Croatan Institute, July

9. (tie) Regenerative Funds Invest in Environmental Health

Published in the San Francisco Examiner, April 30

9. (tie) Jeremy Grantham Says Investors Should Be ‘Intrigued’ by This Strategy

Published in Institutional Investor, April 22

10. Finding Hope in the World’s Greatest Food Challenges

Published by Raising Regenerative, October 23





(This guy is a good teacher!)

(he also has one on sourdough bread that I thought was really good.)