Greenhouse Canada

Rising popularity of Organic Conference

February 18, 2010  By Dave Harrison

Feb. 18, 2010, Guelph, Ont. – This year's Guelph Organic Conference drew another large crowd of almost 1,800 attendees.


Feb. 18, 2010, Guelph, Ont. – This year's Guelph Organic Conference drew another large crowd of almost 1,800 attendees. Attracted by 155 trade show booths, a wide array of farmers, traders and students
foraged the show for organic samples. Meetings, food events, trainings and a
host of annual general meetings spanned five days.


Highlights for attendees included the Food Inc.
showing in downtown Guelph hosted by organic yogurt giant, Stonyfield Farm’s
Gary Hirshberg. Margaret Webb’s ‘Think Big Canada’ keynote presentation packed
the house.

Vermont success story, Pete Johnson and
partner/co-presenter Meg Gardner of Pete’s Greens’ talk on organic market
gardens was a sold-out workshop of 100-plus registrants. The University Centre
was vibrant and lively on Saturday and Sunday with a vast array of organic
trading companies and non-profits exhibiting at the Expo. The show drew a lot
of inquisitive consumers this year, proving that the organic business is really
drawing the attention of the mainstream. The trade show is ideal for consumers
to meet organic suppliers in person.


Taking part in the $5,000 donation were students
of the Organic Agricultural Program, along with (from left to right) Feast of
Fields chair Daniel Gilbert, Professor Ann Clark, and Conference Manager Tomas
Nimmo. Photo credit: © 2010 Heather Osborn,
Crave Images.

One major conference highlight
was the presentation of a $5,000 cheque to Ann Clark and the University of
Guelph’s Organic Agriculture Program by Organic Advocates/Feast of Fields, a
non-profit organization of organic producers, environmentally concerned chefs,
food professionals, and enlightened consumers.

By far, the most popular workshops in 2010 were
the “Organic Market Managers” and “New Farmer Panel.” Many attendees and
organizers felt that the time allowed was only enough to graze the surface of
the depth of the issues.

Referring to the Organic Farmers Market
Networking room, a popular multi-booth display and demonstration room, Carrie
Ann Watson noted that, “as a longtime organic market supporter and organizer,
this Networking Room was a fabulous idea. I think its popularity was a
remarkable example of the booming desire to strengthen the connections between
our food, our environment and the people who grow it.”

Everyone involved – the many
volunteers, speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, and an extremely dedicated staff –
deserve high praise for contributing to a very successful event. “Every year
this show attracts such an exciting crowd that you know you’re at Organic
Central,” said conference manager Tomas Nimmo.  “Guelph 2010 met all my goals.”

organizers of the 29th Guelph Conference include:

• Canadian Health Food Association

• Canadian Organic Growers

• CSI – Centre For Systems Integration

• Ecocert Canada

• Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario

• International Organic Inspectors Association

• National Farmers Union

• Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food &
Rural Affairs

• OCIA-International

• Organic Agriculture Centre of Canada

• Organic Council of Ontario

• Organic Trade Association In Canada

• ProCert Organic Systems

• Quality Assurance International

• Resource Efficient Agricultural Production

• Society For Biodynamic Farming &
Gardening In Ontario

• University of Guelph Organic Agriculture


For a copy of the Conference Proceedings,
including a summary of the 35 workshops and a “guide to organic marketers”
trader list, mail a cheque ($10 postpaid to Canada or $15 to the U.S.) payable
to “Organic Conference” to:

Organic Conference,

Box 116

Collingwood, ON

L9Y 3Z4.


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