January 17th, 2023
A new event for 2023 before our Virtual Symposium!
12 organic leaders will give TED-style talks on the dysfunction surrounding the USDA Organic label and real solutions for the future of food.
Paul Hawken has written eight books published in over 50 countries in 32 languages including five national and NYT bestsellers-- Regeneration, The Next Economy, Growing a Business, The Ecology of Commerce, Blessed Unrest, and Drawdown.
Our day-long gathering on Tuesday, January 17th will lead into the 43rd EcoFarm Conference at Asilomar State Beach & Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, CA.
To attend, select the in-person event or the Live Streaming option on the EcoFarm registration page:
What to expect
Twelve leading voices of the Organic movement will give short TED-style talks about their personal experiences. They will explore a failing food system and the solutions that the Real Organic Project brings. Special guest, Paul Hawken, will give the morning keynote exploring the connecting between the Regeneration project and the Real Organic Project. We will end the day with Paul reflecting on the day's talks.
be a part of the conversation
How do we outsmart a consolidated marketplace that is so hostile to small farms? As USDA Organic is being redefined by industry, the Real Organic Project is growing rapidly. With over 1,100 certified farms across the country, the Real Organic Project is offering farmers and eaters a way to find each other. Is it growing fast enough? What does it take to grow the movement we so desperately need? Let’s answer these questions together.
10:00 AM PAUL HAWKEN
Paul Hawken is one of the environmental movement’s leading voices and a pioneering architect of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices. He is the founder of Project Drawdown, a non-profit dedicated to researching when and how global warming can be reversed. The organization maps and models the scaling of one hundred substantive technological, social, and ecological solutions to global warming.
Paul will help us see more clearly how so many seemingly separate problems are intimately connected. He will help us understand why the Real Organic Project is so important to the process of regeneration.
ALAN LEWIS, NATURAL GROCERS
“Food System Betrayal”
The apparent proliferation of organic products in the supermarket is often misleading as the industry becomes more consolidated in ownership and management. This leads to many real organic producers being pushed out of the stores and fewer and fewer choices for eaters. Gain a glimpse into the inner workings of brokers, distributors, and shelf space. Alan Lewis navigates government affairs and food and agriculture policy for Natural Grocers, a health food store chain operating 140 stores in 19 states.
DAVE CHAPMAN, LONG WIND FARM
“Organic at the Crossroads”
There is a growing awareness of the impact of agriculture on our lives. Destructive agriculture is growing at the expense of real organic farming. The USDA is failing us. There is an increase in retail consolidation with a resulting loss of our supermarket choices. We come to a crossroads. Will real organic survive? What do we need to do to prevent real organic products from being replaced entirely by industrial organic? Dave Chapman is Co-Director of the Real Organic Project and a VT organic farmer at Long Wind Farm for 40 years.
JENNIFER TAYLOR, LOLA'S ORGANIC
“Is USDA's Organic Relevant To Bipoc Farmers?”
Jennifer Taylor spent five years on the National Organic Standards Board while running a small fruit and vegetable farm on her grandmother's land in Georgia. She also trains small farmers in organic principles at Florida A&M University. After years of organic advocacy, Dr. Taylor has come to realize that just standing up for small farmers is not enough. Farmers of color face unique problems in organic agriculture that are not just related to the small scale of their operations. If the organic movement is going to genuinely embrace racial diversity, we need to address the special needs of farmers of color.
“Add-on Certification and the World Real Organic Movement”
STEFFEN REESE, NATURLAND
Steffen Reese is deeply schooled in the challenges of the world organic movement, as executive director of Naturland, one of the world's most prominent add-on certifications. How do farmers best seek recognition in the marketplace for the very real-world benefits they bring? How do eaters support them? How do we bring a trusted certification into the marketplace that works for us among so much greenwashing? Naturland represents 70,000 farms from around the world. Steffen will focus on the growing collaboration between Naturland and the Real Organic Project.
11:55am - 2:00pm Lunch Break
Option to purchase lunch during registration for $27.00 per person.
EMILY OAKLEY, THREE SPRINGS FARM
“Why Real Organic Exists: A Farmer’s Struggle on the National Organic Standards Board”
A co-founder of the Real Organic Project, Emily Oakley is a highly respected organic farmer in Oklahoma, growing farm fertility through cover cropping. She volunteered five years of her busy farmer life to serve on the National Organic Standards Board where a personal transformation took place. As a deeply committed USDA certified organic farmer at the onset, what changed during those five years on the NOSB? What does it mean to Emily to be a certified organic farmer now? Does USDA certification represent her farm anymore?
PAUL MULLER, FULL BELLY FARM
“Soil! What is it Good For?”
As a founding partner of the 350-acre diversified Full Belly Farm, Paul Muller is a legendary organic pioneer. Paul will help us understand why a localized regional food system is critical and how we need to go beyond direct marketing to get there. Learn what Paul wants the next generation of young organic farmers to know about the lessons learned in 40-plus years of shaping the organic movement. Why are healthy soil and the layers of life that it fosters so integral to that conversation?
JESSE COOL, AUTHOR & CHEF
“How We Treat Each Other”
In the richest country in the world, what is our responsibility in how we treat each other? Jesse will explore the ways in which we can honor and respect the roughly 10% of people who work within the food system. The choices we make in what kind of farming we support have a huge impact on the rest of the world. Jesse helps us to see how the people who work behind the scenes throughout the food system should not remain invisible in consumers' minds.
We need a growing awareness to understand that we are all connected. Cheap food isn't a good deal. While the consolidation in the food system does provide cheap food, it is always at the expense of worker welfare, environmental degradation, and/or animal welfare. How can we support all our values when we eat? Jesse Ziff Cool founded five restaurants, starting in 1976 with the first organic restaurant in the country, Late For The Train. She currently operates the legendary Flea St. Cafe in Palo Alto and is the author of seven cookbooks.
JAVIER ZAMORA, JSM ORGANICS
“Tomorrow’s Organic Small Farm Owners. How Will They Survive?”
Javier Zamora is a current member of the National Organic Standards Board and owner of a successful California berry and vegetable farm. Javier is an awesome success story, having come to the US with very little. After working many jobs, he participated in the Alba Project which gives training to mostly immigrant farm workers. In spite of this success, Javier is painfully aware of the betrayal experienced by so many small farmers who are doing everything right but find themselves in a marketplace where massive scale is rewarded. Small farmers struggle, not because they lack in production skills, but because of a monopolistic marketplace. How can we push for more transition to organic farming when the organic marketplace itself is so hostile to new farmers?
15 Minute Break
FRANCIS THICKE, RADIANCE DAIRY
“We Will Always Need a Real Organic Movement: The Importance of Having Farmers Lead”
After a 5-year term serving on the NOSB, Francis has seen that the USDA is losing its way, despite the hard work he and so many others have done to restore integrity in the system. Upon leaving the NOSB he announced that a farmer-led "add-on" certification program was needed to fill the gaps where the National Organic Program was failing and he became one of the founders of the Real Organic Project.
Thinking this "add-on" certification would be a temporary adjustment to reorient the NOP, he has since come to see that any effort to fix these problems without ongoing farmer leadership is bound to fail. The lessons we learn in our fields give farmers a deeper understanding of organic beyond a list of accepted inputs, an understanding that matches the language of the Organic Foods Production Act. And yet, this language is not being enforced. What are we to do? Francis Thicke owns and operates a successful organic dairy and crop farm in Iowa.
DRU RIVERS, FULL BELLY FARM
“The Time To Act Is Now”
Dru Rivers helped build the organic movement at a time when it was marginalized, discredited, and even laughed at as "voodoo" agriculture. Now it is a $62 billion dollar industry in the US alone. Why is it so important that the organic movement wakes up and mobilizes at this moment? What are we at risk of losing and why is it so urgent? Why is the fighting, passionate spirit that was so much a part of organic's origins needed today? What is being taken away and why does it matter? Dru Rivers is a founding force behind the Ecological Farming Association and Full Belly Farm outside Sacramento, both of which draw thousands of visitors with a mission to develop healthier regional agriculture.
HUGH KENT, KING GROVE ORGANICS
“Organicide: Some Real World Effects of USDA Policy on Real Organic Agriculture”
Hugh Kent's 20-acre FL organic blueberry operation is a beautiful example of organic principles in action. Yet, marketing these jaw-droppingly good blueberries has been a challenge as they have navigated corruption in distribution and the marketplace. On top of that, the USDA has betrayed berry farmers like Hugh when they allowed the certification of hydroponic berry production as organic. It has proven impossible to compete on price, leading to growing consolidation in the industry and profound financial struggles for the farm.
LINLEY DIXON, ADOBE HOUSE FARM
“The Rebirth of the Organic Movement”
There are 1100 farmers, and counting, who have all agreed to an additional organic inspection with the Real Organic Project. They, and millions of customers, are begging the National Organic Program to simply enforce the language of the Organic Foods Production Act. As pioneers of the organic movement continue to speak up, the next generation of farmers, eaters, environmentalists, chefs, and authors are inspired. Learn how we are paving the way to a real organic future, together.
with Paul Hawken, Linley Dixon & Dave Chapman
Hunter Lewis Foundation
Front Porch Farm
Long Wind Farm
Please reach out if you would like to sponsor our Pre-Conference at EcoFarm or other programs - your support is integral to our growth.