Integrating research and practice in systems management of organic vegetable farms

2015 Annual Report for SW13-017

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2013: $277,430.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Oregon State University

Integrating research and practice in systems management of organic vegetable farms


WSARE Farm Systems Project Update: December 2015

Long-term organic farms are successful because they have developed effective whole-farm systems over time. On the successful organic farms in our project, pest and soil management approaches become integrated and interwoven with the farm’s climate, location, marketing, and philosophical uniqueness. To understand what is and is not working on these farms, the entire whole farm system needs to be taken into account. Our approach has been to develop detailed Farm System Descriptions (FSDs) that integrate each of our farmer’s perceptions about the long-term and immediate trends on their farms with compilation of long-term farm records and available on-farm data sets/experiment results. Using these FSDs, we are developing Farm System Analyses (FSAs) on whole farm system management practices that are and are not working well on the individual farms and across farms in our study. The strength of this approach is that it allows us to investigate soil and pest management tools and strategies in a whole farm context.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Complete and publish five FSDs:

    1. Persephone (OR)
    2. Wintergreen (OR)
    3. BioDesign (MT)
    4. Woodleaf (CA)
    5. Phil Foster Ranch (CA)

Complete five or more FSAs generated by the data and issues from the five farms studies.


Published Farm Systems Descriptions (FSDs)

Woodleaf (CA). Available at

The Woodleaf Farm System Description includes an overview and three sub-system descriptions:

Soil Management System

Insect Pest Management System

Disease Management System

Farm System Descriptions that are in process and will be published in 2016:

    1. Phil Foster Ranch System Description (CA)
    2. Biodesign Farm System Description (MT)
    3. Persephone Farm System Description  (OR)
    4. Wintergreen Farm System Description  (OR)


Farm Systems Analyses to be published at in 2016:

    • Biodesign Farm: how systems management eliminated insecticide applications for imported cabbageworm (Pieris rapae) management
    • Systems organic management suppresses cabbageworm outbreaks: evidence from 4 longterm organic farms in the west.
    • Longterm organic management and soilborne diseases of vegetable crops: evidence from 2 longterm organic farms in the west. 


Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Project Outreach and Educational Activities 

January 13 2015. North Willamette Hort Society Organic Day, Canby, OR. Alex Stone presented project data in a presentation “Rotation for soilborne disease management”. 140 attendees

January 21-24, 2015. EcoFarm conference, Asilomar, Pacific Grove California. Helen Atthowe presented soil management data from Woodleaf and Biodesign Farms FSDs on an organic no-till panel:

February 5-7 2015. Organicology conference, Portland, Oregon. Alex Stone, Helen Atthowe (Biodesign Farm), Doug O’Brien (Phil Foster Ranch), Carl Rosato (Woodleaf Farm), and Jeff Falen (Persephone Farm)presented a workshop on the goals and preliminary findings of the project.

Feb. 28, 2015.  OSU Small Farms Conference, Corvallis, OR.  Alex Stone presented a workshop “Advanced disease management on organic vegetable farms” utilizing project information.  80 attendees.

March 9, 2015. Edible Education 101 course at University of California, Berkeley. Carl Rosato and Helen Atthowe of Woodleaf Farm presented a lecture using Woodleaf Farm’s FSD.  Lecture was also live-streamed to the public and a video of the presentation is available on youtube:

June 10, 2015.  CCOF “Going Organic” Farm tour at Woodleaf Farm. Carl Rosato and Helen Atthowe presented Woodleaf’s insect and soil management FSD to 18 new and experienced CCOF farmers.

July 22, 2015, Persephone Farm, Lebanon, OR.  Alex Stone used the Persephone Farm System Description as a training tool in the agroecosystem management workshop and Persephone Farm tour as part of the Oregon Master Naturalist Program Willamette Valley Regional Course. 35 students.

August 5, 2015. American Society of Horticulture Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA. Alex Stone presented a poster “Exploring Systems Management of Insect Pests and Diseases on an Organic Vegetable Farm in Oregon” based on the Persephone Farm System Description. 

Fall 2015. Michelle Wander, University of Illinois offered an on-line “Ecological Soil Management Course”, using information from the WinterGreen, Persephone, and Woodleaf Farm System Descriptions.


Project eOrganic Webinars

January 16, 2015: Systems Organic Management Suppresses Cabbageworm Outbreaks: Evidence From 4 Long Term Organic Farms. Doug O’Brien and Jake Asplud present FSD data from Phil Foster Ranch, Persephone, Winter Green, and Biodeign Farm.

February 10, 2015 2:00 PM – 3:15 PM EST: Building Pest-Suppressive Organic Farms: Building Pest-Suppressive Organic Farms: Tools and Strategies Used by Five Long-Term Organic Farms. Helen Atthowe and Carl Rosato present FSD data from Biodesign and Woodleaf Farms.




Lewis Grant

[email protected]
Grant family Farms
515 West County Road 72
Wellington, CO 80549
Bryan Tilt

[email protected]
Associate Professor
Dept of Anthropology Oregon State University
209 Waldo Hall
Corvallis, OR 97331
Office Phone: 5417373896
Jeff Falen

[email protected]
Persephone Farm
30291 Bates Lane
Lebanon, OR 97355
Office Phone: 5414515640
Ed Peachey

[email protected]
Associate Professor
Dept of Horticulture Oregon State University
4017 ALS
Corvallis, OR 97331
Office Phone: 5417373152
Phil Foster

[email protected]
Pinnacle Farm
P.O. Box 249
San Juan Bautista, CA 95045
Bill Snyder

[email protected]
Washington State University
Dept of Entomology
Pullman, WA 99614
Office Phone: 5093353724
Helen Atthowe

[email protected]
Project Coordinator
4017 ALS
Dept of Horticulture
Corvallis, OR 97331
Office Phone: 5305891678
Louise Jackson

[email protected]
UC Davis
3144 Plant and Environmental Sciences Building
One Shields Ave
Davis, CA 95616
Office Phone: 5307549116
Wali Via

[email protected]
Winter Green Farm
89762 Poodle Creek Rd.
Noti , OR 97461
Office Phone: 5419357676
Alice Formiga

[email protected]
eOrganic coordinator
Dept of Horticulture Oregon State University
4017 ALS
Corvallis, OR 97331
Office Phone: 5417373483
Carl Rosato

[email protected]
Woodleaf Farm
6176 Old Olive Hwy
Ororville, CA 95966
Office Phone: 5305891696
Doug O'Brien

[email protected]
Agricultural Consultant
Doug O'Brien Agricultural Consulting
2714 Placer St
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
Office Phone: 8312120304