Sample some of the great sessions that happened at the 2012 EcoFarm Conference! We are offering all of the plenary sessions free of charge for a limited time. Click on the session title and a new window will open to play the track.
Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food & Agriculture, Sacramento, CA
Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State, Minneapolis, MN
Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union, Turtle Lake, ND
From the Arab Spring to the 99% movement, 2011 was a year of unrest, change and popular protest. Although diverse in nature, collectively these popular movements call for a renewal of participatory democratic principals that are common to our own long unheeded call for fair food and agriculture policies that benefit all of society instead of the few at the very top.
Those of us farming in California hold a unique place in the world of agriculture. We contribute over $36 billion in agricultural sales to the national economy, more than any other state and 11.2% of the U.S total. California leads in the number of organic farms, land in organic production, and organic sales, representing over one third of organic sales in the nation. Our spot on center stage is so bright that at times it’s difficult to see our relationship to other parts of the country and the world. Yet we are a part of a food and agricultural system much bigger than ourselves.
How can we leverage our power to create a more just marketplace for organic and ecological agriculture? How can we most effectively call for change and collaborate with others who are working for the same ideals?
Join us in learning from the talented policy makers below and raise your EcoFarmer Voices! (In English with Spanish interpretation.)
Dave Henson, Occidental Art and Ecology Center, Occidental, CA
Katherine Dimatteo, Wolf, Dimatteo & Associates, past president of the World Board of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), Ledyard, MA
Sometimes it seems that the world has problems that are spiraling out of control. Debilitating poverty and hunger, severe environmental degradation, economic structures that are not sustainable, climate change, and governments that are not responsive to their citizens’ needs are all staggering challenges to face. We have learned that current economic policies and genetically engineered foods are not the answer to these problems, nor is isolationism or thinking small.
What if we had the solution? What if organic agriculture served as the foundation of a green economy? This would take getting the rest of the world to listen and adopt an ecological model!
While the organic movement is still growing worldwide and has strong grass roots, it has been separated from these bigger issues and suffers from lack of recognition in the global arena. Positioning organic agriculture to be a real strategic tool for sustainable development, for combating climate change, and for achieving food security has been the goal of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and is reaching a critical point in preparation for the upcoming United Nations conference on Sustainable Development, Rio + 20, to be held in June 2012.
We can think globally and act locally! We will hear from some of these global thinkers here.
An annual tradition at EcoFarm! This year’s crop of farmers will talk about what they do, why they do it, and what they’ve learned along the way. (In English with Spanish interpretation.
Green String Farm, Petaluma, CA
Bob Cannard has been farming sustainably for 30 years. He is well known for providing produce to Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley. His farming philosophy involves staying in tune with natural processes and replenishing the land with cover crops and compost. In collaboration with Fred Cline, he currently runs Green String Farm and the Green String Institute. Green String Farm is a 140-acre farm with 50-60 acres in cultivation in Petaluma, CA. The mission of Green String Institute is to renew the spirit of organic agriculture and train young farmers with respect for the environment and the planet.
Christopher LaRose, Jessica Spain, Noël Vietor, Shirley Ward
Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA
For over forty years, the Esalen Farm and Garden provides a holistic model of food security and sustainability—growing organic food on 4 acres in Big Sur that sustains, heals and educates the community and 17,000 guests per year. The Esalen Institute was founded in 1962 as an alternative educational center devoted to the exploration of what Aldous Huxley called the “human potential”. The Esalen Farmers and Gardeners believe that growing one’s own food is a powerful form of activism and a deep source of spiritual experience. They strive to cultivate soil, plants and people, while honoring the spirit of the land and its ancestors.
Hashimoto Farm, Ichijima Tanba City, Japan
Shinji Hashimoto was born in 1961, in Hiroshima, and started farming organically in 1989. He created a Teikei (CSA in English) farmer’s group in Hyogo prefecture, near Kyoto that has since become one of the oldest operating grower’s groups in Japan. His Teikei provides shares year-round for 300 households. Shinji produces around 40-50 varieties of vegetables and raises 400 free-range chickens. He is an active member of the Japanese Organic Agriculture Association and promotes Organic and Teikei farming principles. Shinji’s Teikei helped their members recover from the Kobe earthquake in 1995 and currently supports farmers who were affected by the Fukushima nuclear power plants accident in 2011.
Jim Knopik, Northstar Neighbors, Fullerton, NE
Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, Valle Crucis, NC
Our theme this year, Raising EcoFarmers’ Voices, is about speaking up for ecologically-sustainable values in our communities. This may mean engaging with neighbors who may not agree with those values. Learning how to inspire change while at the same time working with neighbors and communities with a variety of perspectives is key to being an effective voice. Our speakers can take on “the system” in a way that keeps a neighborly outlook intact.
Jim, an organic grain and livestock farmer from Nebraska, and the mid-Nebraska PRIDE organization he founded successfully fought big hog confinement operations and won. If you talk to Jim, he won’t describe the battle in terms of fighting, but rather as neighborly connection and education. Connections with his neighbors have figured largely in Jim’s success; he is also the founder of Northstar Neighbors and the Nebraska Food Co-op. Jim has worked tirelessly to create ways that fledgling organic producers in Nebraska can bring their goods to the heartland’s urban markets in the midst of conventional and GM cropland, and he has succeeded.
Making connections of a different kind, Tom Philpott has helped launch a new type of career – part farmer and part witty investigative food journalist most recently for Mother Jonesand formerly for Grist. In Tom’s words, a decade ago it wouldn’t have occurred to a national, political publication to hire a full time food writer. Today, Tom’s reporting digs into food and farm stories to bring readers the hitherto hidden facts – no matter how surprising and unappetizing they may be. A former financial reporter, Tom is able to elucidate the vagaries of the industrial food system through engaging writing that reaches larger numbers of readers every day. He’s sharing knowledge on a grand scale, and as the saying goes, knowledge is power. We hope you’ll listen to Tom describe the surprising ways that small groups of people have made big changes in their communities and are dramatically altering previously barren, industrial landscapes.