Innovation down on the farm

Innovation down on the farm

Article Index

By Linda Baker


Bill Chambers is president of Stahlbush Island Farms, a sustainable farming operation that averages double-digit annual growth.
// Photo by Alexandra Shyshkina
Bill Chambers, president of Stahlbush Island Farms, has a simple explanation for why he has adopted so many innovative technologies and practices in service of sustainable agriculture. “Work should be fun and interesting, and doing new things makes work fun and interesting,” says Chambers, 54, who grows and processes fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes on 5,000 acres in Corvallis. “That’s the source of our core value of innovation.”

In 1997, Stahlbush became one of the first farms in the country to be certified sustainable by the Food Alliance. Twelve years later, the family-owned company turned agricultural waste into energy with the first biogas plant of its kind in North America. And in 2010, Stahlbush released the first 100% biodegradable freezer bag.

Today Chambers and his wife, Karla, continue their legacy of environmental innovation. Aiming to achieve a “carbon-negative footprint,” their latest acquisitions include a high-speed disc for preparing the soil and a computer-controlled weeder. The new pieces of equipment, which will debut this spring and summer, don’t sound particularly sexy. Yet both reflect Chambers’ focus on cutting-edge, chemical-free mechanical and computer-based approaches to agriculture.