The Organic Grower Summit tackled a wide variety of issues and topics, attracting hundreds of organic growers, producers, and processors to its third annual conference held in Monterey, CA, on December 4th and 5th, 2019. Presented by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and the Organic Produce Network (OPN), the event featured a sold-out exhibition floor showcasing companies advancing the latest trends in soil and plant health, bio-pesticides, seed, food safety, and ag technology.
Organic Grower Summit networking lunch.
Kicking off the two-day event were a pair of educational intensives focused on organic soil health practices and growth of ag technology.
Haley Baron, education and research program associate with the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFR) said conferences like OGS are an important vehicle in which to disseminate information culled from the latest research and gain valuable insight into areas and issues important to growers and ripe for research.
In the second educational intensive, founders and CEOs from six of the most progressive ag tech firms shared their thoughts on precision and automated technology----and talked about the challenges in supply chain efficiency and food waste management.
Organic Grower Summit tradeshow floor.
“Our tent has gotten bigger,” said OPN co-founder Tonya Antle, “and with that comes new challenges. We wanted this summit to address growers’ real-world issues.” With that in mind, OGS organized a series of educational sessions which offered a dynamic mix of old school experience—successful strategies born out of years of working the fields day in and day out—and new technologies and markets offering a glimpse into the future.
Keynote presenters offered three unique perspectives on how organic agriculture can drive social and economic change: hemp as a possible plastics replacement, sustainable ranching with a social conscious, and an ambitious initiative to sequester in soils one trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
According to keynote presenter David Perry, Indigo Ag President and CEO, he aims to eventually pay participating farmers $15 to $20 per ton of carbon that they sequester using many of the tools already familiar to organic growers. Called the Terraton Initiative, Perry said regenerative farming practices can improve both the quality of soil and the profitability of farms, while at the same time reducing global warming. The Terraton Initiative has already signed up 13 million farmers.
The Lundberg family has navigated those issues and built a successful multi-generational business and was therefore honored at OGS with the Grower of the Year award, sponsored by AGCO.
By the numbers, OGS was attended by nearly 700 people, including 200 organic growers and 90 exhibitors on a sold-out tradeshow floor. The summit also included several social events providing networking opportunities and an exclusive screening of the award-winning short documentary “The Last Harvest.” Produced by Driscoll’s, the short film shines a light on ongoing labor shortages and immigration reform and was followed by a lively discussion on challenges and possible solutions from industry experts.