SAVING Real ORGANIC
A full-day of talks and breakout sessions with 12 prominent organic movement leaders.
Welcome & Introductions
Act 1 Morning Session
Linley Dixon, Real Organic Project
“Saving Organic: The first five years of the farmer-led Real Organic Project”
Linley is co-director of the Real Organic Project and a vegetable farmer in SW Colorado. Her MS in organic farming systems and Ph.D. in plant pathology led her to the fungal systematics lab at the USDA, and then on to organic policy. Principled farmers who believe in the ethical foundations of fair return to the earth need a critical point of differentiation in the marketplace. There are now over 1,200 farms across the country certified to Real Organic Project’s higher standards for animal welfare, soil health, and worker protections. What sets these farmers apart and how can we better support them?
Francis Thicke, Radiance Dairy
“A journey to real organic”
Francis and his wife, Susan, run Radiance Dairy in Iowa. They are a direct-to-market small dairy that serves as the heart of a dedicated community that has gathered around their farm. Processing and selling milk, cheese, and yogurt. Previously Francis has earned a Ph.D. in soil science, led a USDA program on soil health, taught at the college level, and served a leadership role on the National Organic Standards Board. He is widely respected by other farmers, giving frequent keynote addresses at farming conferences. Francis serves on both the Real Organic Standards Board and Executive Board.
Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Tree-Range Farms
“The need for a real regenerative movement”
Reginaldo is a prominent chicken farmer and leader of the regenerative movement. Based in Minnesota, Regi "engages immigrant, young, small, new and established agricultural entrepreneurs in the US in refining and championing a global model for small-scale, poultry-powered (and planet cooling), scalable regenerative agriculture system." His powerful speaking is calling attention to the real roots of regenerative agriculture.
Glenn Elzinga, Alderspring Ranch
“Raining beavers and political suicide:
Why cattle are ruining our public lands in spite of a better way”
Glenn is a well-known organic beef rancher from Idaho. Their Alderspring Ranch is run by Glenn, his wife, Carla, and their seven daughters. They are pioneering "in-herding," a way of herding cattle over the 40,000 acres of rangeland they manage. They have witnessed the transformation of the land through their return to the ancient techniques of cattle herding. Glenn often speaks at conferences, presenting with Dr. Fred Provenza, a leading expert on rangeland management and livestock nutrition. Alderspring Ranch was one of the original pilot farms certified by the Real Organic Project.
Kristin Kimball, Essex Farm
“The small farm revolution needs activist eaters”
With her husband, Mark, Kristin runs a year-round CSA farm in New York state. Selling a dizzying array of meat, milk, eggs, grains, and vegetables to their community, Mark and Kristin are heroes to many farmers. Kristin's skills as a writer are equal to her skills as a farmer, and she has written about her farm journey in these excellent books The Dirty Life and Good Husbandry.
Growing your own fertility
with Hugh Kent, Eliot Coleman & Linley Dixon
Raw milk, why is this a political issue?
with Abby Rockefeller, Kristin Kimball, Francis Thicke, Steffen Schneider & Alan Lewis
Compost research and farming for climate
with Ben Dobson & Matt Sheffer
Grafting tomatoes in a greenhouse (hands-on)
with Dave Chapman
Churchtown Dairy walk
with Don Mills, Eric Vinson & Jean David Derreumaux
12:oo pm LUNCH break
Act 2 Afternoon Session
Ben Dobson, Hudson Carbon
“The politics of farming for climate”
Ben Dobson has been a grower of intensive organic greens production in Maine, followed by working in Biodynamic production in Central America, and then on to managing Stone House Grains in New York. He is a co-founder of Hudson Carbon, a research facility on the actual intersection of farming, carbon, and climate. Also a co-founder of Hudson Hemp and a founding board member of Regeneration International, Ben is ever active in leading the change that we seek. He has been active in the recent efforts of the Mexican government to reject importing grain treated with herbicides.
Iriel Edwards, Real Organic Project
“Why is race in this? USDA discrimination, land access, and collective liberation”
While sometimes misconstrued as a peripheral topic to conversations in sustainable agriculture, addressing diversity and equity in the organic movement is a core action in tackling the corporate takeover of our public institutions. In this session, Iriel will tell the story of how the USDA knowingly stripped the BIPOC community from land and how this is fueling the consolidation of our food system. She will highlight how the cultural shift within the next generation of farmers to prioritize systemic racism will liberate us all and save Real organic. Iriel is a young BIPOC farmer who recently joined the staff of the Real Organic Project as an inspector. Previously she was part of the non-profit Jubilee Justice which works with BIPOC farmers focusing on dryland rice production. Based in Louisiana, Iriel is well connected with the network of farmers of color in the Southeast.
Alan Lewis, Natural Grocers
“Food system betrayal”
Alan is Vice President of Policy at Natural Grocers, based in Colorado. Alan has spoken eloquently at Real Organic Project conferences at EcoFarm and Dartmouth on the consolidation of power in the distribution and retailing of food. He is also deeply knowledgeable about the consolidation of the dairy industry and concerns around lab meat. Alan served a term on the original Real Organic Project Standards Board.
Hugh Kent, King Grove Organics
“Breaking their own laws: Hydroponics and the farce of USDA Organic integrity”
With his wife, Lisa, Hugh runs a medium-scale organic blueberry farm in Florida. They were the first farm in America to feature the new Real Organic Project label on their farm products. Hugh has become a leader of the Real Organic movement as he has called out the many failures and frauds of the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) and the consequences to farmers. The NOP has broken trust with the organic movement, embracing CAFO meat, milk, and eggs, and soilless hydroponic berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, greens, and herbs. The berries that he grows with Lisa have become known nationally for their extraordinary flavor. They are a symbol of what we are losing when we lose the real organic movement.
Grazing in different regions
with Francis Thicke, Steffen Schneider & Glenn Elzinga
Regulatory Breakout: How do we create the desired change?
Can organic feed the world? Why is this a political issue?
with Chellie Pingree, Dave Chapman & Matt Sheffer
The world organic movement
with Linley Dixon, Iriel Edwards, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin & Ben Dobson
Fake food and the coming disaster
with Alan Lewis & Hugh Kent
with Kristin Kimball
Four Season Farm: Evolving into a self-fed farm
with Eliot Coleman
with Jean David Derreumaux
Act 3 Last Session
Chellie Pingree, U.S. Representative
“The power of the chemical Ag lobby”
Congresswoman from Maine, Chellie still participates in her working farm. Chellie is well known as the organic champion of the House of Representatives. She has spoken at the Thetford Rally In The Valley alongside Senator Pat Leahy and then Congressman (and now Senator) Peter Welch. A co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, Chellie is courageous in her defense of real organic farming. She speaks eloquently about the power of the Big Ag lobby in Congress.
Dave Chapman, Long Wind Farm
“Saving Organic: the Future of the Real Organic Project”
Lifelong Vermont farmer, Dave is co-founder and co-director of the Real Organic Project. He is co-founder of the Vermont Organic Farmers and the grassroots movement Keep The Soil In Organic. Dave manages a one hectare glass greenhouse that produces delicious tomatoes in fertile soil. Dave served on the USDA Hydroponic Task Force. He has interviewed over a hundred leading organic thinkers with his co-director, Linley Dixon.
Eliot Coleman, Four Season Farm
“We did it before, we can do it again”
Eliot is one of the true pioneers of the organic movement. He was an early director of IFOAM - Organics International. He has taught thousands of people how to become organic farmers through his writings and on his farm. Learning from his mentors Helen and Scott Nearing, he turned rocky land with little topsoil into his verdant Four Season Farm. He continues to lead and inspire, even as he refuses the mantle of "thought leader" preferring to be known as a "nose-thumber."