Tilth Alliance was created in 2016 from the merger of Tilth Producers, Cascade Harvest Coalition and Seattle Tilth — three organizations with over 90 combined years of work contributing to Washington State’s local and sustainable food movement. Below is a timeline of some of the major milestones from our shared history.
Our seasonal pay-what-you-can farm stand launched at Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands, ensuring that everyone has access to locally grown organic produce. This runs alongside a CSA, with growing, harvesting and packing support from our youth employment program. Tilth Alliance also spearheaded the development of the Coalition for Organic and Regenerative Agriculture (CORA), a statewide advocacy group representing farmers and consumers.
Tilth Alliance became a founding member of the Eat Local First Collaborative, a collective of food system organizations working together to facilitate connections between consumers and farm and food businesses statewide. In November of 2020, the Collaborative launched Eat Local First and the Washington Food & Farm Finder.
Tilth Alliance started facilitating the Washington State Organic and Sustainable Farming Fund, providing financial assistance to support organic and regenerative agricultural projects on Washington farms.
Major redevelopment of Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands completed. Today the farm is a 10-acre community hub for organic food production and distribution, environmental education and wetlands restoration. It is co-operated by Tilth Alliance and the Friends of Rainier Beach Urban Farm & Wetlands, and owned by Seattle Parks & Recreation.
Initial funding for the Culturally Relevant Plant Starts program was awarded, working with immigrant and refuge communities to research and trial growing edible varieties in the Pacific Northwest climate together.
Tilth Producers, Seattle Tilth and Cascade Harvest Coalition merged to create Tilth Alliance.
Cascade Harvest Coalition launched its Farm to Table program to strengthen connections between local growers and food buyers at regional workshops throughout Washington State. Tilth Alliance continues to operate a school-based Farm to Table program, school education programs, and supports a statewide School Learning Garden Network.
The Good Food Bag program launched, making locally grown produce more accessible to communities in South Seattle. Over 32,000 bags are now distributed annually, with produce grown in our urban farm and gardens and sourced from over 100 local sustainable farms.
Tilth partnered with WSU Food Systems Program to collaboratively organize Farm Walks, farmer-to-farmer educational opportunities hosted by organic, sustainable, and innovative farm and food businesses throughout Washington State. In 2020, Farm Walks were held via podcast in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first Washington Organic Week (WOW) was organized by Tilth Producers. WOW was a marketing initiative that ran for 7 years encouraging consumers to buy organic produce grown in Washington.
Cascade Harvest Coalition launched two programs: Puget Sound Fresh, providing consumer education about local farm products and encouraging people to buy local food, and Washington FarmLink, working to ensure farmland remains in agriculture production. Through the FarmLink program, over 1,000 acres were retained in active production. In 2021, WA FarmLink was adopted by WA Farmland Trust.
Cascade Harvest Coalition incorporated as a Washington non-profit organization to build capacity to effectively address issues affecting the health and viability of the food and farm system in Washington.
Tilth Producers established a comprehensive directory of Washington State’s organic farmers, CSAs, farmers markets and farm suppliers. This laid the groundwork for Cascade Harvest Coalition’s Puget Sound Fresh Farm Guide, which eventually became Eat Local First’s WA Food & Farm Finder in 2020.
The National Organic Standards Board was created with two representatives from Tilth Producers sitting on it. Tilth Producers worked with the Washington State Department of Agriculture to establish the first state-managed organic certification program, building on their programs supporting and promoting the organic farming industry.
The Master Composter and Soil Steward program began, after Seattle Tilth staff convinced Seattle Public Utilities to fund the training of volunteers to teach Seattle residents how to keep yard waste out of the landfill. This model has been copied throughout the U.S. and continues to be run by Tilth Alliance.
The Future Is Abundant, a guide to sustainable agriculture edited by Larry Korn, Mark Musick, and Barbara Snyder, is published.
144 women from Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and British Columbia came together in Ellensburg, WA, for the “Demeter Conference: NW Women in Sustainable Agriculture.” Attendees discussed the politics of rural life, social justice, organic growing practices, greenhouses, wholesale and direct market sales, community gardens, healing with herbs, and women and physical labor.
Tilth Association formally incorporated to support and promote biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. By the next year, local Tilth chapters were formed in California, Oregon, Idaho and Washington — including Seattle Tilth and its Urban Agriculture Center at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, where Tilth Alliance’s offices and learning gardens remain.
Tilth’s first book, Winter Gardening in the Maritime Northwest by Binda Colebrook, was published. Tilth publications remain well regarded resources across the gardening community, particularly the Maritime Northwest Gardening Guide.
The Northwest Conference on Alternative Agriculture in Ellensburg was organized by a group who attended the symposium held at Expo ’74 in Spokane. The conference drew more than 800 participants, many of whom would later become key figures in the Northwest’s ecological agriculture movement.
At Expo ’74 in Spokane, WA, speaker and Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry spoke on the state of American agriculture, inspiring attendees on the need to change our relationship with the land and the food it produces. Berry challenged the group to “bring together individuals and organizations concerned with creating a better kind of agriculture,” in the hope that it “would be the start of something or other that would be useful.”