Integral to Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust’s stewardship of land is research conducted by those working on the land, focused on developing and refining sustainable agricultural practices. OSALT conducts research to rediscover proven agricultural techniques and to test new approaches.
With the advice and guidance of members of OSALT’s Advisory Board, OSALT works individually with each donor and the grower/researchers associated with the land to design practical, scientifically sound research projects which will further our understanding of sustainable production of food, fiber and building materials. Projects are designed to draw upon the skills, experience and needs of the grower/researchers, taking into account the specific piece of land and the goals of both the donor and OSALT.
Research projects may include soil and soil microorganisms; plant and animal diversity, interactions, and localizations; growing methods and philosophies; testing economic models for real-life operation; exploring the relationship between nutrients in the soil, growing methods, varieties and their relationship (if any) to nutrients in food crops; and on to include questions we don’t even know how to ask yet. The essence of research is that we do not know all the answers, and some of what we do know is wrong. So, at OSALT we draw on the experience of donors, growers/researchers, Advisory Board members and other interested parties to suggest research projects which hold promise for a more sustainable agriculture.
Since each OSALT grower/researcher is associated with a specific piece of land for decades, long-term realistic research projects by growers in real-life agricultural situations, which are ordinarily very difficult for traditional research programs to conduct, become very practical.
Another area of research concerns the distribution of agricultural products. This includes exploring new marketing approaches such as Community Supported Agriculture, Farmers Markets, Farm Stands, and Co-ops. On-farm Processing and other value-added activities may also increase sustainability.
The results of all research are integrated into educational programs for growers and for the general public. Research results are published in the OSALT journal and, as appropriate, in scholarly publications. Summaries and “popularizations” are distributed to general and specialty publications for broader distribution.