A New Year of Organic Occasions and Sustainable Summits: Hello Sweet Sixteen

2016It’s that time of the year when we set aside the champagne and brie, or beer and curds depending on your longitudinal coordinates. We pull our resolutions up by their proverbial boot straps and get back to work, turning another corner on our good food journey. Sweet sixteen is upon us and so too is a year full of congregations and confluences to satisfy our organic urges and sustainable impulses. Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss out!

There isn’t a better way to kick off the organic farming conference circuit than in Pacific Grove, California in January! One of the oldest and largest of its kind, the 36th Annual ECOFARM CONFERENCE is focused this year on “Regenerating our Lands and Waters.” It’s not too late to register for this inspirational event January 20-23, 2016.

If protecting the biodiversity of our seeds is a priority for you, be sure to sow plans to be in Corvallis, Oregon, February 4-6, 2016. The Organic Seed Alliance’s 8th Annual ORGANIC SEED GROWERS CONFERENCE will be a hotbed of seedy knowledge and skills, scientific research, resources and tools to help us breed, grow, and sell more organic seed!

To the heartland we now turn where the cheese curds overflow, and the beer and the horoscopes play. The Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association’s 27th annual conference, GROWING RIGHT BY NATURE, will be held in Granville, Ohio, February 13-14, 2016. This is Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farming conference boasting over 200 workshops for local Midwest farmers.

Still focused on a wintery wonderland, Wisconsin is our next snowy stop where the Midwest & Sustainable Education Service MOSES ORGANIC FARMING CONFERENCE is held. Get ready to grow and be inspired February 25-27, 2016 in La Crosse, Wisconsin. This is the largest, most widely attended organic and sustainable event in the US with over 3400 participants. It is the place for plains farmers to gather resources and tools while making connections of support.

If agricultural policy is important to you, you may want to consider attending USDA’s 2016 Agricultural Outlook Forum to be held February 25-26, 2016 in Arlington, Virginia. OTA’s Executive Director, Laura Batcha will moderate a session entitled “Transforming the Rural Economy: The Outlook for Organic Agriculture” as part of the program!

Then go west for a welcome dose of sunshine and palm trees for the NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO WEST, March 9-13, 2016 in balmy Anaheim, California. I have been attending this epic show since the mid-80’s and have seen it grow from a Lilliputian event to a blockbuster tradeshow extravaganza attended by over 65,000 people. It’s here that you’ll discover new products and trends, attend educational seminars and workshops, while networking with old friends and new acquaintances.

The evening of Thursday, March 10, 2016 is a special one because THE ORGANIC CENTER’S 13th ANNUAL BENEFIT DINNER will be held at the Marriott adjacent to Expo West. Attend this dinner to delight in a combination of good food, good company, and organic science; it’s the biggest and best business networking dinner at Expo West. This year, Alice Waters, the acclaimed chef, food activist and founder of Chez Panisse will be the keynote speaker. Don’t miss this opportunity to support organic science and enjoy a scrumptious night of networking.

If the abnormally warm winter hasn’t hastened all of the cherry blossoms, head out to Washington D.C. for blooms and regulatory bliss. The NATIONAL ORGANIC STANDARDS BOARD meeting will be held April 25-27, 2016 in Washington D.C. These meetings give the NOSB an opportunity to listen to public comments and discuss their agenda items. Crucial votes on the future of organic are debated and then decided in this lively public forum. This is one of the most important meetings for organic stakeholders to attend and it’s your chance to get involved in the process. Keep an eye out for more detailed meeting information including agendas, locations, recommendations, and public comments on the NOP website.

Organic May flowers really blossom with the OTA’s ORGANIC WEEK IN WASHINGTON where a bouquet of events awaits you May 23-27, 2016. The conference will address blooming consumer demand as organic goes more mainstream, increasingly tight supplies of organic products, and lingering confusion among consumers. Then, you’ll get a chance to trundle up Capitol Hill and meet with Congressional leaders to explain why organic funding is so important. Come early to attend The Organic Center’s first-ever ORGANIC CONFLUENCES SUMMIT on Monday, May 23 at the Hall of the States, Washington D.C. The goal is to bring together organic stakeholders to turn evidence-based research on the environmental benefits of organic agriculture into policy practice. Take time out at Nationals Park to see the Nationals take on the Mets for ORGANIC PAC’S FUNDRAISER, Tuesday, May 24. Contact OTA to learn how to receive an invitation to this PAC event.

Back on the West Coast, the ORGANIC PRODUCE SUMMIT  will commence on July 13-14, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency in Monterey, CA. It will feature a series of timely educational sessions designed for organic fresh produce. If produce is your thing, you won’t miss a “beet” at this inaugural event.

Last but not least, don’t forget about NATURAL PRODUCTS EXPO EAST in Baltimore, Maryland, September 22-24, 2016. Here you can attend the OTA ANNUAL MEETING and the OTA ANNUAL AWARDS CELEBRATION.

The year is still young and so is our quest for knowledge, networking and growth. Attend any and all of these events to fulfill your organic resolutions in the year ahead. Now is the time to mark your calendar and make it a sweet sixteen!

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