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Lynn Coody Oral History Interview, December 20, 2017

Oregon State University
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00:00:00 - Family Settlement and Name Pronunciation

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn describes her family's history in New Jersey and why her mother wanted to settle in Point Pleasant. Lynn also specifies that her last name is pronounced as if there is one 'o'.

00:02:00 - Community Life and Early Education

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn's "center of the universe" was the school, with choral singing playing a significant part. She describes the emphasis that both she and her mother had for studiousness, and the joy that learning brought her. Lynn notes that her internal drive for knowledge was crucial in the early years of organics, when there was a lot of self-teaching required by farmers and Oregon Tilth founders. Lynn's family also began to take care of her grandparents during her time in Pleasant Point.

Subjects: Access to Extracurriculars

00:04:24 - The Young Scientist

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Partial Transcript: "For a long time I thought I wanted to be a marine biologist, because that was the only type of biology I was familiar with... and I knew from an early age that I was interested in biology. But again in those days, it was discouraged for women to study science - I was actively discouraged, even in my precious school... and I just said, 'Well that... is totally crazy. I'm just gonna have to do it anyway. And I did.'"

"That's one thing I love about living in Oregon, is I still have the ocean. Except it's a totally different ocean!"

Keywords: Biology; Marine; Ocean; Oregon

Subjects: Women in Science

00:05:16 - Introduction to Agriculture

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn is asked about any relationship she had to agriculture and gardening growing up. She recalls how her mother would buy flower bulbs from Lynn's brothers, to raise money for the Cub Scouts, and she would be the one to plant them. Lynn describes the "pivotal" moment she had while gardening of appreciating biological life cycles. She also acknowledges the role of her neighbor and his garden in her ability to grow and experiment with plants. Notably, Lynn says that 4-H was not present in her community.

Keywords: 4-H?; Dead-heading; Flowers; Tomatoes

Subjects: Gardening

00:10:03 - Environmental Perspectives

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn notes that the first works of Rachel Carson that she read were those that expressed a shared love of the sea. After reading Silent Spring, Lynn described herself as, "...in my own little way, a little environmentalist." Carson's book ultimately motivated Lynn to earn a degree in Environmental Studies, in addition to a degree in Biology, at university. But it was only until eleventh grade in high school when Lynn had finally found a mentor who encouraged her curiosity in science. "[My biology teacher] was the first person who didn't make fun of me, and actually fed me information." The subject of Lynn's high school Senior Paper was the ocean's food chain, "largely fueled by books that [my biology teacher] gave me."

Keywords: Environmental Science; Environmentalist; Mentor; Rachel Carson; Silent Spring; Taxonomy; Teacher

00:13:50 - College Bound

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Segment Synopsis: "My parents were very supportive, but they also didn't know how to choose." Lynn explains that her mother did not have the opportunity to attend college herself, and her father went directly to the Merchant Marine Academy during WWII to study engineering. Lynn describes the ubiquity of college catalogues, and admits that the driving forces behind her decision on Colby were the university's bog and arboretum. She continues to discuss college life, which suited her. Expanding more on her degree in Environmental Studies, Lynn explains that the major was not implemented at Colby until her sophomore year. Although Lynn was sure going into college that Biology would be enough in itself, she ultimately found great interest in classes required by the Environmental Studies major that she would not have otherwise taken (such as economics, etc.). Most of the classes which Lynn took that overlapped between her two majors were in the field of botany. Once Lynn began to connect the ecosystems in soil that she studied in college, to the ecosystems in the ocean and in her own garden that she studied in high school, an interest in farming emerged.
Lynn describes the beginnings of environmental activism observable at Colby College, including a campus-wide recycling initiative in which she participated. However, Lynn was not able to participate in many of the off-campus events that students attended related to activism. At the end of this segment, Lynn elaborates as to how her perspectives were broadened by college.

Keywords: Arboretum; Bog; Botany; Colby College; College; Environmental Activism; Environmental Studies; Interdisciplinary; Maine; Recycling; Sociology

00:30:33 - An Emerging Interest in Agriculture

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn explains that a Senior Seminar was required at the end of her Biology major, in which she and her fellow students had to choose a topic related to flagella. While trying to find a discussion point that intersected Biology and Environmental Studies, Lynn encountered material about The Green Revolution and the dialogue of the organic movement in response. During the spring of her senior year of college, Lynn found an internship at an organic farm in New Brunswick, Canada. She pursued this position after graduation, remembering, "I need[ed] to be able to know: Can I physically be a farmer, would I enjoy that life, what would it be like?"

Keywords: Canada; Flagella; Organic; The Green Revolution

00:34:37 - The Internship

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn is asked what she learned about herself during her internship in Canada. She describes the practice of apprenticing in the organic farming community, as well as the practice of a visitor paying an organic farm to work there and take classes. When Lynn was done with her work, she could sit in on these classes, and realized how much of her college education worked as a practical tool in this field.

Keywords: Apprentice

Subjects: Integration of Knowledge

00:37:42 - Getting to Oregon

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Partial Transcript: "To me, the Willamette Valley sounded like the Garden of Eden"

Segment Synopsis: After leaving her internship in Canada, Lynn spent a short time as an environmental geologist in Milford, New Hampshire, until she and her fellow employees were laid off due to the snowy season. Lynn wanted to pursue farming, but knew she did not want to return to New Jersey because land there was too expensive. Lynn found the Cerro Gordo Community in Cottage Grove, Oregon through a presentation given on the East Coast by a traveling representative. Lynn researched the farming conditions in the Willamette Valley, and decided to move there and live with the Cerro Gordo Community on the understanding that if the situation didn't suit her, she could still pursue a Masters' at University of Oregon.

Keywords: Cerro Gordo Community; Cottage Grove; Ecological Life; Environmental Geology; Fresh Start Farm; Homestead; Intentional Community; Land; Milford; New Hampshire; Soil; South Eugene; University of Oregon; Willamette Valley

00:42:24 - Getting to University of Oregon

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn elaborates upon the approximately two years between arriving in Oregon and starting a Masters' at the University of Oregon.

Keywords: Cobbossee Watershed; Creswell; Limnology; Masters'; Oregon State University; Systematic Ecology; University of Oregon

00:50:07 - Systems Ecology

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn describes the structure of various disciplines at the University of Oregon at the time, and how these differed from Oregon State University. Lynn compares how her drive to learn as much as possible about organic farming in an academic setting differed from many in the organic movement who wanted to begin farming immediately and learn by practice. Lynn did not foresee herself owning land. ... Consulting... continuing to be a holistic understanding

Keywords: Botanical Taxonomy; Botany; Consulting; Dr. David Wagner; Hydrology; Independent Study; Interdisciplinary; Land; Lichen; Quantitative Ecology; Sustainable Farming

00:53:23 - Women in Field Biology

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Partial Transcript: "Nevertheless, I persisted"

Segment Synopsis: Lynn notes that many female students took classes in the laboratory setting, particularly genetics. She describes the experience she often had as the only woman in a field course, and a particular experience in which the instructor would not be willing to share a tent with her, alongside the other students. Lynn did not see the gender gap shift in field ecology during her time at University of Oregon; however, she emphasizes the opportunity that field courses provided her to see the various regions of Oregon she hadn't before (including The Cascades and Crater Lake).

Subjects: German Ecologists

00:56:47 - Other Activist Organizations

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Partial Transcript: "Living in this [Intentional] community, on some level, is an expression of an activist point of view, I would imagine?"
"Oh yeah."

Segment Synopsis: Lynn is asked if she was a participant of other groups and organizations during her time living with the Intentional community, and obtaining her Masters'. She explains that University of Oregon had the option of providing her financial aid assistance for working with a nonprofit, in addition to taking classes.

Lynn notes that she is still a member of NCAP.

Keywords: Forestry; Mary O'Brien; NCAP; Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides; Sustainable Forestry

00:58:59 - Cerro Gordo

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Partial Transcript: "From that point, I would say that all what I was studying, I intended to apply to... basically, reform the agricultural system that had been described in those Green Revolution papers that I had read."

Segment Synopsis: Lynn is asked about formative moments leading her to pursue a career in organics. Because Lynn did not grow up having direct experience with farming communities, the 10-acre parcel of land at the Cerro Gordo Community dedicated to farming ... "intent[ion] to become knowledgable enough to be able to really participate in [farming]." Lynn also describes her residence alongside five other persons, with an extensive garden outside of it - about a quarter of an acre, at the base of Mt. David - that she coordinated. The garden included fruit trees and berries. However, the land was initially bare; so the community was required to construct both a stream from the mountain for running water, and a well to irrigate crops, which were mostly dedicated to feeding themselves. There was also no access to electricity. Lynn notes that she built herself a yurt to reside in at the community, and was one of the more consistent members. Lynn herself had goats. She also notes that the community would receive periodic and bemused visits from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management).

Keywords: Cerro Gordo; Green Revolution; Irrigation

01:04:25 - Lynn's Introduction to Oregon Tilth

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Partial Transcript: "Suddenly, instead of having to have my own 12-person tent, I was in the tent!"

Segment Synopsis: Oregon Tilth - at the time, "Regional Tilth" - distributed newsletters that reached Lynn. She decided to attend a gathering of "agricultural women" hosted by Tilth in Ellensburg, Washington, and found it to be a transformative experience. Lynn notes the isolating experience of farming and specifically organic farming in those years (1970s).

Keywords: 1977?; Regional Tilth; Women in Agricutlture

Subjects: Ellensburg, WA

01:09:58 - The Early Years of Oregon Tilth, the Willamette Valley Chapter

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Partial Transcript: "In those days, Tilth was a regional organization for Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and a little bit of Northern California... so we had chapters, all over the place."

Segment Synopsis: Lynn discovered the Willamette Valley Chapter of Regional Tilth, and "quickly saw a need for organization". Lynn volunteered to be a Membership Secretary; then when the president of the chapter (Bob Cooperider) stepped down, Lynn volunteered to be president. Lynn focused much of her effort towards recruiting speakers to come talk to the chapter about subjects such as soil health. Another of the chapter's initiatives was to recruit OSU professors to conduct on-farm research with organic farmers. Once this academic representation was accomplished, the chapter expanded rapidly and both OSU and Tilth had access to a wider range of grants. However, Lynn had to ... to find s..........: "Who can be organized enough not to let this researcher down, and who can... who is interested enough to... deal with this kind of a farm."

Keywords: Bob Cooperider; Del Cabo Cooperative of Southern Baja; John Graham; Regional Tilth; Willamette Valley Chapter

01:17:03 - Establishing Certification

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Partial Transcript: "So [Harry McCormick] wrote some standards, that were like a novel and a poem and a play: that were beautiful, they were philosophical. And I said: 'Alright, where's the science here?"

Segment Synopsis: Lynn explains that the first certification system was a process of farmers inspecting each other, but there were no "standards". Harry McCormick volunteered to write out standards for Tilth, which Lynn edited. This included developing a checklist ... condensed of the standards, which could be taken out into the field by inspectors.

Keywords: Certification; Harry McCormick; Organic

01:34:20 - Unification of Oregon Tilth Regions

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn .explained the benefit of traveling in pairs when meeting with different regions around Oregon, and how the combinations of Harry McCormick's, Yvonne Frost's, and her own character .. team to convince ... that forming a greater coalition would produce benefits...

Subjects: "Organic Barack Obama"; Benefits of Organic Certification

01:41:23 - 1990s Expansion of Tilth

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Segment Synopsis: Lynn attributes the foresight of certifying processed products to Yvonne Frost. Merging and unifying standards of Washington and California with Oregon. 1989 saw the establishment of Oregon's state organic laws. >Consumer Bill<: Tilth requested Senator Jolin to pull back until they were more confident that it would be acceptable to all parties and would pass through the legislature, which asked them to write a draft of a law. Lynn recounts what she learned through her experience while present in Salem with the legislature. The bill passed two days before Lynn's wedding. As Tilth's certification expanded into processing, Lynn notes that it provided an opportunity for licensing fees to be collected by Oregon Tilth, that did not apply to the whole produce market. However, there were still disagreements at the time, philosophically speaking, between the certifying branches over organic certifiers' participation in processing. Lynn also discusses how accreditation developed further: to include appeals and suspension processes, etc., in addition to inspection. Lynn highlights the milestone of developing a materials list of ... products in organics as a part of accreditation expansion. The Oregon state law was in consequence the first state organics law which included a materials list, a feature which was ultimately carried into the federal law.

Keywords: Accreditation; Brian Baker; CCOF (California Certified organic Farmers); Consumer Bill; Diana Tracy; John Gray; Licensing fees; Materials List; ODA; OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute); Peg Jolin; Robert DeSpain