The New Year celebrations are a mere twinkle in our champagne glasses. With resolutions set firmly in place it is time to unwrap those new calendars and begin planning the year. The organic community is blessed to have a plethora of activities all year long that educate, celebrate and germinate ideas and opportunities. From seminars on composting and beekeeping to elegant dinners and Capitol Hill advocacy, the choices are broad and diverse. 2015 is the year to get inspired, listen and speak up. It’s time to celebrate and honor where we are and vision where we want to go. Get your pens out and mark up those calendars now!
The first of several regional farming conferences is January 21-24th in Pacific Grove, California. What better place to congregate in January than the beaches of central California? The Eco Farm Conference is celebrating its 35th year, bringing organic stakeholders together to dig in and cultivate new opportunities. As their slogan points out: the Eco-Farm Conference is more than a conference. It’s a gathering for inspiration, renewal and celebration, organic style. This year’s conference will offer more than seventy workshops featuring an array of educational and technical sessions for farmers, ranchers, distributors, retailers, activists, consumers, students and educators. The goal is to support the success of triple bottom line agricultural businesses to fill the boots of the estimated 70% of farmers expected to retire over the next 15 years. You can attend by registering here and additionally you can fund a scholarship to bring farmers, educators, farmworkers, activists and students who cannot otherwise attend.
February is a busy month and rolls in with a roar emanating first from Portland, Oregon, February 4th-7th. Organicology is “The Study of a Sustainable Food Future.” This isn’t really only a farming conference but rather a venue to bring all stakeholder groups to the table. Come to develop skills and gain exposure to the challenges and accomplishments of those in other areas of the trade and the movement. Organicology is the brainchild of four organizations that care deeply about taking organic food and agriculture to the next level: Organically Grown Company, Oregon Tilth, Sustainable Food Trade Association and the Organic Seed Alliance. This event usually happens every other year so register now to be part of the discussion.
The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association will hold its 36th annual conference February 14th -15th in Granville Ohio. This is Ohio’s largest sustainable agriculture conference and it will feature keynote speakers with nearly 100 workshops, scrumptious organic meals and three full-day pre-conference events.
Head south on February 20th-21st for the 18th annual Georgia Organics conference in Athens, Georgia.. They are expecting over 1,000 attendees to learn, network, feast, and champion organic foods and farms. The two-day conference is one of the largest sustainable agriculture expos in the South and attracts famers, health advocates, gardeners, parents, and everyone in-between who cares about healthy foods, farms and families.
The MOSES Organic Farming Conference is the next date to mark on the calendar for February 26-28th, in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Don’t miss THE LARGEST event in the U.S. focused on organic and sustainable farming. More organic farmers attend this than any other conference to expand their farming knowledge, to discover new resources and tools, to make connections and find support, and…look cool wearing plaid! This truly valuable conference boasts an organic university, workshops, a research forum and an Exhibit Hall. Not to be missed is the excellent array of organic food at every meal! Where else can you eat your fill of cheese curds before attending a workshop on ergonomic, affordable milking parlors? MOSES conference sells out every year so get your registration plaid on!
The hint of spring comes wafting in as everyone heads to Natural Products Expo West at the Anaheim convention center March 6-8th. Expo West is the leading trade show in the natural, organic and healthy products industry, attracting over 67,000 industry professionals and 3,000 exhibits! It is co-located with Engredea and Fresh Ideas Organic Marketplace, and showcases the entire value chain of healthy products from start to finish, identifying the bestsellers of today and the trends of tomorrow.
If you are looking for a gourmet and organic luncheon you can attend the 25th Annual Organic Farming Research Foundation Luncheon, Thursday, March 5th. Sign up to enjoy a spectacular seasonal, organic feast prepared by guest chefs Chris Blobaum and Donna Prizgintas. Learn about the good work OFRF does at the luncheon.
Later that same day The Organic Center will be holding its 12th Annual VIP Dinner. With over 500 attendees expected, you won’t want to miss the largest organic business networking event at Expo West. At this celebratory fundraising dinner, you’ll hear thought-provoking keynote speakers discuss the intersection of food, farming, science and politics. A celebrity chef designed menu will feature delicious appetizers, delectable main courses and mouthwatering desserts all made with the finest organic ingredients. The evening will start with a cocktail reception and end with a rhythm and blues soul band — so you can count on plenty of time to connect with friends, colleagues and the industry’s leading innovators. You can buy tickets now to discover where organic science meets organic soul at Expo West!
April blossoms into organic advocacy in Washington, D.C. at the Organic Trade Association’s Policy Conference & Hill Visit Days. Be there Tuesday, April 14th for the OTA member day when the Board of Directors will host a full membership meeting along with OTA’s forums, task forces and sector councils. That evening the Organic Political Action Committee will host a fundraiser event for members of Congress who support issues that affect organic food and farming.
The Policy Conference will be held at Washington Newseum, Wednesday, April 15th bringing a diverse crowd together to learn about the issues making news in organic from members of Congress, agency chiefs and other notable influencers.
Let the advocacy fun begin when on Thursday, April 16th you team up with colleagues and are deployed to Capitol Hill for pre-arranged meetings with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss the impact of your organic business on the economy. We all need to tell this 114th Congress about the prosperity and growth created by the organic industry through the hard work and determination of the organic community. Register NOW to take your seat at the table and make a difference in federal food and agriculture policy. Let’s advocate for fair funding for the organic sector.
So much to explore and that’s only spring! The vibrancy of our organic community is reflected in the number of extraordinary networking, educational and policy events this year. Be sure to attend as many as you can and look for another post on future affairs later in the year.
Meanwhile, I hope to see you there!