Member Spotlight: The Nature Conservancy of Washington

The Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy is one of our newest WA members, and we talked with them to learn more about their work and why they care about a sustainable food system.

The Port of Ilwaco, located at the mouth of the Columbia River in Ilwaco, Washington. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann

The Port of Ilwaco, located at the mouth of the Columbia River in Ilwaco, Washington. Photo credit: © Erika Nortemann

Tell us about The Nature Conservancy’s work in the sustainable food world.
As we’re approaching a planetary population of 9 billion people, the amount of food we’re going to need will put a lot of pressure on natural resources. The Nature Conservancy is working to find ways to harmonize food production systems with conservation, so that the planet can feed people, and we will still have clean water for people to drink, for recreation and to support healthy fisheries and other natural systems.

 

 

What is the Washington chapter of The Nature Conservancy working on?

  • We’re working with farmers and shellfish growers who are figuring out how to produce clean water and habitat for Puget Sound in a way that’s good for their own business.
  • We’re working with commercial fishermen who are developing innovative gear and practices for sustainable fisheries.
  • We’re working to connect producers who are implementing sustainable farming practices with higher-value markets to ensure their profitability and viability.

Dairy farmer Alan Messman is partnering with The Nature Conservancy in the pioneering "Farming for Wildlife" program which partners with Skagit Delta farmers to incorporate flooding into their crop rotations to create important wetland habitat for shorebirds as well as maintain family farms.  Photo Credit: ©Bridget Besaw

Dairy farmer Alan Messman is partnering with The Nature Conservancy in the pioneering “Farming for Wildlife” program which partners with Skagit Delta farmers to incorporate flooding into their crop rotations to create important wetland habitat for shorebirds as well as maintain family farms. Photo Credit: ©Bridget Besaw

What are you most excited about in the sustainable food field right now?
There is greater consumer awareness and demand for sustainably produced food. It’s creating a marketplace pull and business case for farmers and fisherman to maintain and increase conservation practices that are good for the environment and their bottom line. That tends to be a more powerful and sustainable motivator than changes driven solely by regulation and policy.

Why do you think the chef community is crucial to support in sustainable practices?
Chefs are the gatekeepers of the food system. They drive demand for good food and can build awareness of how food production and conservation is connected to our well-being and quality of life. By making connections with the farmers and fishermen they can help bridge the rural-urban divide and generate greater public and private sector support for conserving wild and working lands.

Why are you a member of Chefs Collaborative?
Chefs Collaborative is leading the way in bringing the issue of conservation and sustainable food production to the forefront, creating awareness that conservation is not just about cute cuddly animals, but about the food that nourishes us and secures a future of abundant fisheries, resilient farms and sustains the lands and waters that sustain us all.

Photo Credit: Kirsten Morse

Photo Credit: Kirsten Morse

What’s next for The Nature Conservancy?
We’re working with farmers and other food producers to coordinate conservation and agriculture interests so we are working together and not in conflict. We’re working to shape state and federal funding for bigger impacts. We’re working with the business community to grow the market for sustainable food, and we’re working to connect producers with the market.

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

One Response to “Member Spotlight: The Nature Conservancy of Washington”

  1. Paul Dye Says:

    Thank you Chefs Collaborative! We are really pleased to join your efforts to make everyone aware of the value of healthy, sustainably produced food. Good for people, good for the planet. Paul Dye, The Nature Conservancy’s Director of Marine Conservation in Washington.

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