In response to escalating concerns about climate change, drought, and reduced summer water availability, the OSU Small Farms Program launched the Dry Farming Project in 2014 with support from the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program. The project started small with a few case studies and demonstrations and has had a growing impact over the past three years leading to the establishment of the Dry Farming Collaborative (DFC) in 2016.
The DFC is a group of farmers, extension educators, plant breeders, and agricultural professionals partnering to increase knowledge and awareness of dry farming management practices with a hands-on participatory approach. This bottom-up approach employs the knowledge and experience of the agricultural community in identifying adaptive strategies while simultaneously assessing and integrating them on the ground. The original function of the DFC was to facilitate farmer-to-farmer information sharing as growers started to experiment and establish their own dry farming trials.
Now the OSU Dry Farming Project is supporting the DFC in multiple ways:
- Facilitating communication and creating space for information sharing: DFC Facebook group, email list, field days, winter convening and coordinating conference presentations with DFC members.
- Creating a dry farming resource hub on the OSU Small Farms website which includes: extension publications, handouts, articles, books, presentations, and other resources.
- Coordinating participatory research: Developing protocols and tools to assist with data collection, sourcing plant material for dry farm trials, and distributing to trial hosts. Contact Amy Garrett (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in hosting a trial.
- Developing resources to assist growers new to dry farming: Dry Farming in the Maritime Pacific Northwest extension publication series initiated with Intro to Dry Farming Organic Vegetables (EM 9229), and will continue to grow.
DFC members share concerns about the future of our water supply and agree that exploring alternatives to irrigated agriculture is a necessity for the sustainability of their farms. Each member of the DFC brings expertise and innovations, which accelerate collective learning. Join us for our annual field days in late summer to see what these crops and management practices look like in the field!