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Organic Grower Summit expands in second year

The second annual Organic Growers Summit will convene in Monterey. CA, in mid-December with an expanded program, an added show day and a larger venue.

The event, which will be co-sponsored and hosted by the California Certified Organic Farmers and the Organic Produce Network, will begin on Wednesday, Dec. 12, with a so-called “CannaBus Tour” of Salinas Valley, as well as a morning devoted to educational workshops and the opening of the trade show from late morning to mid-afternoon. At the end of the day, an opening reception will be held as well as a fundraising dinner for the CCOF Foundation.ogs

The two educational sessions are very much grower-related as one will explore healthy soil practices for organic growers, while the other will look at the business side of farming.

The first day will also feature the first of two Meet the Grower sessions conducted by the buying team of Costco. The second session will be held Thursday morning. Costco has announced publicly its efforts to greatly increase its organic offerings. In fact, it has asked its produce suppliers to move in that direction.

These two sessions are designed to create opportunities for organic produce growers to establish a relationship with one of the country’s largest retail organic produce buyers.

“Over 100 grower meetings have been scheduled with the Costco team,” said Matt Seeley, chief executive officer of the OPN. “It has been a joy to work with Costco on this event as they are very activity engaged and whole-heartedly showing their commitment to the organic industry.”

He said both large and small growers will be meeting with Costco representatives, who are most keenly interested in talking to growers to learn about production issues and concerns.

Day 2 again will feature educational session aimed at growers. One session will give those in attendance an update on the ever-changing regulatory environment while another will again go back to the dirt to discuss managing organic production systems to promote good plant health.

There will be many different educational session options, including one featuring a member of the National Organics Standard Board, another looking at the data driving the current organic revolution, and a session devoted to ag technology as it relates to organic production. A discussion about the USDA Organic brand will inform growers about efforts to safeguard the use of it. And a discussion of organic beverages will round out the day’s workshops.

Following the educational sessions, there will be a keynote address delivered by John Foraker, co-founder and CEO of Once Upon a Farm, and a Grower Roundtable with three different grower perspectives being explored.

Before the exhibition floor opens again, long-time organic grower Thaddeus Barsotti of Farm Fresh To You will be honored as the recipient of the Organic Grower Summit’s Grower of the Year. Barsotti was selected based on his ongoing commitment and dedication to excellence in organic production and organic industry leadership and innovation.

Barsotti is co-CEO of Farm Fresh To You, a community supported agriculture (CSA) and home delivery service that provides fresh, local, organic produce to consumers’ doorsteps. He also heads up farm management for Capay Organic.

“Thaddeus Barsotti exemplifies the energy and innovation of a next generation of organic producers that now leads American agriculture,” said Cathy Calfo, executive director and CEO of CCOF. “His family legacy is part of our legacy, and his hard work and accomplishments pave the way to our future.”

Seeley said the trade show is sold out and more than 800 growers are registered to attend the two-day event. He noted that the expansion was the result of participant feedback from last year, with many growers noting that they would rather spread their time on the exhibition floor between two days as they shoe-horn show attendance with their all-important day job of tending to their crops.