Organic Food

Conference 2014

Certified Organic Association of BC
Friday, February 21st - Sunday, February 23rd 2014
Nanaimo, BC


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Business Planning for Small-Scale Farms
Presenter: Chris Bodnar - Close to Home Organics
This session will provide you with the practical tools and understandings of running a small-scale agriculture business that you need to be successful in your farming endeavors. The process of developing your own business plan will underpin these understandings of running a business. If you are starting your own business this session will help guide you through the process of writing a business plan. If you aren’t sure whether you’re starting your own business this course will help you organize your thoughts around business planning and how to approach potential ideas. In addition to the personal work of identifying goals and developing business ideas, Chris will also cover the nuts and bolts of running a business. This includes tax planning, insurance requirements, labour management, developing systems and processes, marketing, legal structures and record keeping. We will review formulas that can help you test the viability of your business idea and determine rates of return on your personal investments of time, energy and money.

Certification 101
Presenter: Rochelle Eisen
Rochelle will be presenting an overview of the certification process and all of the steps that are involved from first year transitional to Certified Organic status. She will also provide an overview of the various Certifying Bodies in BC and their roles in the certification process in the province including ISO and regional certification. There will also be a Question and Answer session to help deal with any concerns or inquiries attendees may have.

Pastured Laying Hens - Management Techniques and Free-Choice Feeding
Presenter: Jacob Slosberg
Come learn about pastured egg production in a diversified farm system. We'll talk about key system challenges and some of the management strategies we use at the UBC Farm to address those challenges. We'll touch on a broad range of topics including coop design, feeder and drinker selection, protection from predators, pasture seed mixes, feed selection, and egg handling. There will also be a research update presenting the results from our third year of free-choice whole grain feed trials with our hens at the UBC Farm funded by OSDP and IAF.

Design By Observation: Translating the language of universal patterns into useable solutions on the farm.
Presenter: Jesse Lemieux

Whether developing a farm from scratch, developing a new production system, initiating a new enterprise, installing new infrastructure or renovating the old there are a multitude of design techniques and strategies that we can employ. None of which is as significant and important as "Design By Observation." While it is the case that observational design can have an intuitive quality, there is a straight forward and rational process we can use to: make observations, generate ideas and test assumptions long before we move the earth or purchase materials.

This workshop will cover the basics of an indispensable observational design tool and how it can be applied. This will be an interactive presentation in which we will working through a real life example or two. If you bring an open mind and take some good notes I am sure that you will be able to use this straight forward framework to translate your own keen observation skills into usable solutions on the farm.

Establishing a provincial farmland trust in British Columbia: A community dialogue
Presenter: Heather Pritchard
Jessica Dennis
Farm Folk City Folk is exploring the development of a new provincial farmland trust to protect farmland and to support secure access to land for farmers. We are in the process of researching and gathering expert and community input on the most suitable model for establishing this new farmland trust in BC. In this session we will begin with a brief overview of farmland trusts and present on three proposed models which are:
1) a stand-alone new trust organization,
2) a member based farmland trust cooperative, and
3) the integration of a land trust within Farm Folk City Folk.
The majority of the session will consist of a facilitated discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of the three models and how to move forward with the development and financing of the new farmland trust to best meet the needs of the local farming community.

Exploring the potential of biochar amended soils for organic production: Year 1 results from a field trial at UBC Farm.
Presenter: Jessica Dennis
Dave McCandless
Biochar is charcoal made from waste organic materials that has the potential to improve crop productivity and sequester carbon when applied as a soil amendment. There is however variability in the reported results of amending with biochar and many of the trials to date have been carried out in tropical or sub-tropical regions and in conventional farming systems. The goal of the UBC Farm project is to better understand biochar's potential for contributing to sustainable soil management, crop productivity and climate change mitigation in a small-scale organically managed farming system located in a temperate climate. A controlled field trial assessing the impact of biochar added with and without compost on beet yield and soil properties was carried out over the 2013 season.

This session will provide an overview of the emerging practice of using biochar in agriculture and its reported benefits and challenges to date. The session will report on the experiences the UBC Farm had handling and applying biochar using a small spreader, the results from the year 1 field trial, and the goals for year 2 research. The session will include time for discussion on the practice and potential of biochar in organic farming in British Columbia.

Four Season Harvest
Presenter: Clara Coleman - Four Season Farm Consulting
During this session, Clara will discuss the benefits of soil blocks, seed starting and variety selection, appropriate crop planning using movable high tunnels, various pruning and trellising techniques, successful soil bed preparation (indoors and out), and effective sales and marketing methods for small scale farmers.

Growing Success Panel
Presenter: Andrew Arkesteyn-Vogler - Crisp Organics Ltd.
Carmen Wakeling - Eatmore Sprouts & Greens Ltd.
Hermann Bruns - Wild Flight Farm
This panel session will focus on growing your small business to one of a medium scale. Andrew Arkesteyn-Vogler will talk about his experiences growing his small farm over the past three years into a successful market garden operation. Carmen Wakeling from Eatmore Sprouts will share her story of growing a small sprout farm into a successful medium-scale venture that ships sprouts throughout and outside of the province. Hermann Bruns will offer some tips for adding value to your farming operation through the sharing of his experience in growing his farm operation to include packing and storage options on site.

Hazelnuts Varieties and Disease Resistance
Presenters: Haley Argen - Nature Tech Nursery Ltd.
Thom O'Dell - Nature Tech Nursery Ltd.
Hazelnuts are a good low input crop well-suited to organic production with lots of options for value added products. Haley Argen and Thom O'Dell started Nature Tech Nursery in 2010, in part to help revive the BC hazelnut industry by importing new varieties that combine disease resistance with substantial yield increases. They will briefly review hazelnuts as a crop and the industry here, talk about the new varieties and the BC Hazelnut Grower's Association trial which is underway, and discuss agroforestry applications of hazelnut trees.

Panel Discussion: Hosting Farm Apprentices: Challenges and Opportunities
Presenters: Evelyn Pereira - Terra Nosa Farm
Jordan Marr - The Homestead Organic Farm
Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein - Klippers Organics
Join a panel of farmers experienced with hosting apprentices to discuss some of the most common challenges and problems that arise when offering farm apprenticeships. Panel members will share their strategies for minimizing conflicts, offering a good farming education, and keeping apprentices happy and motivated from start to finish. Attendees will be invited to share their own successes and failures with regards to this topic.

Innovative Methods of Carrot Seed Production in Unheated High Tunnels
Presenters: Jen Cody - Growing Opportunities Farm Community Cooperative
In partnership with the Bauta Initiative, and funded by a grant from the Organic Sector Development Program, this 4-year project just wrapped up its first year. Participating farmers from the project will share the results and learnings from trials of organic carrot seed production in high tunnels at four farms in different regions of BC. The goal of the project is to develop best practices for farmers interested in growing carrot for seed in areas where Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota) is present. This is a major challenge to growing carrot for seed because Queen Anne's Lace (QAL) will readily cross with domesticated carrot varieties, compromising the seed's genetic integrity. High tunnels offer isolation from outside insects that might transfer pollen from QAL to carrot flowers.

Pest Café - Pest and Weed Management
Presenter: Moss Dance - Ripple Farm
Arzeena Hamir - Amara Farm
Megan Halstead - Halstead Farm
This will be an open-space session to discuss key weeds and pests that are major concerns for organic farmers. Panelists will provide their practical solutions for managing pests and weeds and facilitate a discussion and world café with participants to delve into issues pertaining to you.

Pesticides: where do we come from, and where are we going?
Presenter: Dr. Warren Bell - Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment (CAPE)
This overview of pesticide use and historical and political patterns shows the steady pattern of moving away from oil-based chemical solutions towards biological pest controls -- and how much work is needed to reach this goal.

Processing Standards
Presenters: Lisa Pierce
Sarah Davidson
This session will provide an orientation for those considering adding processing to an existing farm operation or for new applicants. The following will be part of the discussion:
  • Production process – split operations; commingling and contamination concerns; assessments on equipment, pest control and sanitation; and record keeping requirements
  • Ingredients and Labelling of Organic Products
  • 95% Organic – What about the other 5%?
  • Question and Answer session

Professional Credentials for a New Generation of Organic Farmers
Presenter: Rochelle Eisen - Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL)
Heide Hermary - Society for Organic Urban Land Care (SOUL)
There are currently over 600 certified organic farmers and processors in BC, but there are also close to 3,000 "uncertified organic" producers in BC. A significant portion of the uncertified organic producers are small-scale operators or new farmers who in most cases cannot comply with the land tenure requirements of the Canada Organic Standard or feel it is not economically feasible to secure organic product certification. Until now, organic certification has been product based, involving an inspection process that guarantees organic farmers are following organic standards. COABC's 2012 Small Scale Certification report suggested that farmer certification system might be worth exploring. This new education-based personal accreditation being explored by SOUL offers an alternative approach to communicating an organic farmer's commitment to organic principles. More information, including a full history of the project and copies of essential documents at this website:

Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Basics for Small Farms
Presenter: Anna Rallings - KPU Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are an excellent way for a farmer to document their routines, identify hazards, comply with standards and improve efficiency. Especially for farms with employees, apprentices, WOOFers or volunteers, SOPs can help save time during training and develop better practices in day-to-day farm duties. In this session, Anna will cover the rationale for SOPs and provide guidelines on developing these procedures for your farm operations.

Standards Review Panel Discussion
Presenter: Anne Macey
Linda Edwards
What revisions are being proposed for the Canadian Organic Standard? What changes do you think should be made? How can your voice be heard? Anne Macey, Chair of the Livestock Working Group and Linda Edwards, Chair of the Crops PSL working group, will lead a discussion on the Standards Review Process that began in the fall of 2013 and will end with the publication of a revised Canadian Organic Standard in August 2015. Treated fence posts and the 3km buffer for bee hives are just 2 examples of the 300+ items on the current work list being tackled by the working groups. This session will provide an overview of the process, report on the outcome of the first Technical Committee meeting in December and ask for input on some of the more difficult issues.

Value-Added Ventures
Presenter: Kevin and Annamarie Klippenstein - Klippers Organics
In this session the Klippensteins will share their experiences of growing their small market garden operation to include value-added dried fruits and preserves. Join them to learn about the regulations and challenges they needed to overcome to include processing in their farm production.