The Real Organic Virtual Symposium

We are finally ready to release the website for the Real Organic Symposium. It is an amazing gathering of voices from the organic movement. Use the menu above to navigate through the webpages!

In the coming weeks, we will highlight some of the many speakers who will be featured at this virtual gathering.

Al Gore is famous for his defense of our planet. His movie, An Inconvenient Truth, helped to make climate change a part of our daily cultural conversation. His mission to advance solutions to the climate crisis includes agriculture as a core part of that conversation. Last year he began an annual gathering at his farm in Tennessee, bringing together farmers, ranchers, scientists, chefs, and food experts to discuss the relationship between climate change and agriculture. He called this gathering “The Climate Underground.” a two-day conference at his family farm. 

Gore told the gathering, “We’ve waited so long to start to address the climate crisis. We will need to both reduce emissions drasticallyand take as much carbon out of the atmosphere as we possibly can.”

Gore spoke about the pressures of drought, heat, storms, flooding, insects, and disease on food producers. “We may be approaching a threshold beyond which the agriculture that we’ve always known cannot support human civilization as we know it.That’s something we need to avoid.”

It is our hope to see agriculture as part of the solution to climate change rather than as part of the problem. The principles of climate regeneration are based on the traditional practices of "Organic." 

Al Gore will be a keynote speaker at the January 2021 Real Organic Virtual Symposium. He will talk about how we create change, both personally and on an international level. He has famously said, "As important as it is to change the lightbulbs, it is more important to change the laws."

There were 40 speakers last year at Al Gore's Climate Underground. One of them was Francis Thicke. Francis is a celebrated organic pioneer in America, both a Ph.D. professor and a real-life dairy farmer. He has been a program leader for the USDA on soil health. He has served five years on the National Organic Standards Board. He has taught college courses and even he even ran for Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. He is the chair of the Real organic Project Standards Board and sits on our Executive Board. Francis has been an organic dairy farmer since 1980. With his wife, Susan Noll Thicke, he runs Radiance Dairy in Fairfield Iowa.

Francis spoke on a panel with Al Gore at the Climate Underground conference, where he talked about the Real Organic Project, and our efforts to bring the National Organic Program back to the original standards as defined by the Organic Food Production Act.

I met both Emily Oakley and Francis Thicke when I testified (many times) to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). Both farmers were serving on the NOSB at Jacksonville and were deeply involved in the debates around organic integrity that began the Real Organic Project.  Both were founding members of Real Organic Project and both served on the first executive board.

Emily, with her husband, Mike Appel, runs Three Springs Farm in Oklahoma. They are innovative organic farmers who GROW most of the fertility for their intensive vegetable farm. They met years ago while working at Full Belly Farm in California. Emily was one of the first board members of the National Young Farmers Coalition and later served as the group’s president.

Emily has been a courageous voice speaking in defense of small farmers to the USDA. She is finishing her five-year term on the USDA advisory board and will be missed by all real organic farmers.

Francis introduced us to Zach Wolf, manager at Mr. Gore's ranch, Caney Fork Farms. Zach runs Caney Fork after working as Director of Growing Farmer Initiative at Stone Barns Center in New York. He has also been the Farm Manager at Locusts On Hudson for six years, and as Director of Farm Programs at Glynwood. Caney Fork is certified organic with the USDA and is also certified with the Real Organic Project. Zach is an innovative farmer who has done an amazing job running this 580-acre farm.

We have learned so much from these organic leaders and can't wait to share their deep knowledge with you.

Many thanks,


PS. It is especially important that friends forward this email so that others can learn about the symposium. We appreciate your support.

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