Organic Food
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BC Certified Organic Conference 2020

Friday February 28 to Sunday March 1, 2020
Richmond, BC

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BC Organic: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future
Dag Falck (Organic Program Lead – Nature's Path Foods; Director – IFOAM NA)

Dag will examine some of the current threats and challenges to Organic Principles, particularly in light of what is happening South of the border to erode the organic standards there. He will outline some of the current responses and opportunities globally, such as IFOAM's Organic 3.0, and the emergence of additional certification labeling such as Regenerative Organic Certification. Most importantly, he will conclude by presenting his ideas of the best steps that can be taken to ensure a bright and growing future for BC Organic.


BC Agricultural Policy Panel
Kim Grout (CEO – Agricultural Land Commission)
Anna North (Asst. Director Policy – Ministry of Agriculture)
Ione Smith (Director – Upland Agricultural Consulting)

Will include a discussion of creative adaptations and on-farm industries that have been recently approved. Will provide updates on results of recent consultations on the future of agriculture policy in BC.

Biodynamic 3.0
Anna Helmer (Helmer's Organic Farm)

Can something as over-complicated, mis-understood, and woo-woo as Biodynamics be part of the future of organic farming? Sounds perfect! It is certainly working on our farm: yields are rising, soil is healthy and the food tastes good. Anna Helmer, who couldn’t tell you for certain what her zodiac sign is, makes the case for a farming method she doesn’t completely understand but has come to love.

Building a sustainable Vegetable Seed Production System for British Columbia
David Catzel (Seed Security Director – Farm Folk City Folk)

Will describe new strategies and best practices in seed saving. Will outline new potential enterprise and marketing opportunities for farmers, as well as opportunities to access new seeds from local sources.

Exploring Future Farmer training programs in BC
Sarah Clements (Researcher – Farmer Training Project, KPU)

Will outline current opportunities for peer learning, and training opportunities for new entrants and youth, and seek feedback on what improvements and additions need to be made to the training network in BC. Will discuss the importance of training new farmers in alternative agricultural practice in BC, justifying the need for further research and instructional tool development in the topic. We will then discuss the specific methodology we used to engage alternative farmers in BC in order to extract information useful for developing instructional materials that guide new farmer training. We will then present the workshop findings, highlighting the core themes that emerged and how the results will inform curricula development in the field. We will talk about how this research will be used in existing and new farmer training programs across the province and the country. Lastly we will present plans to validate the workshop findings via a survey to a greater population of alternative farmers in BC.

How to Apply Organic Nutrient Management Techniques to your Field
Sean Smuckler (Research Chair - Agriculture and Environment, UBC)
Josh Anderson (Nutrient Management Specialist, BC Ministry of Agriculture)
DeLisa Lewis (Farmer, Educator, Researcher, Accreditor)

A hands-on session to follow up on Kira and Amy’s research, designed to help farmers take what was learned through the research and apply it in their own fields, including soil testing and nutrient management planning tools.

Improving organic vegetable farm sustainability through enhanced nutrient management planning
Kira Borden (Researcher – Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC)
Amy Noorgard (Researcher – Faculty of Land and Food Systems, UBC)/span>

Efficiently meeting crop nutrient demand is particularly challenging for organic farmers growing mixed vegetables. This presentation will be an overview of four years of organic amendment experiments and the resulting effects on crops and soils, and how both vegetable production and environmental sustainability can be optimized.

The challenges for nutrient management on organic vegetable farms vary widely across regions in British Columbia. These challenges can depend on differences in soils, climate and the availability of nutrient inputs (e.g. compost). Results from two years of on-farm nutrient management trials in three regions, Pemberton, Vancouver Island, and the Fraser Valley will be shared and the challenges particular in each region, highlighted.

Indoor Organic: Certified Organic Greenhouse Production of Cannabis
Peter Doig (Director – Upland Agricultural Consulting)

Peter will give a brief background on the best practices for Organic Cannabis Cultivation with a focus on Environmental Sustainability as well as the challenges of the retrofit of a conventional high tech glasshouse over to cannabis production.

Introduction to LiteFarm, BC's New Farm Management App
Mollie McDowell (LiteFarm Program Developer)
Zia Mehrabi (LiteFarm Program Developer)

Join us for a hands-on session aimed at helping you make the most of LiteFarm, a new, free, open source farm management app. (coming in early 2020). Bring your laptop/tablet/smartphone!

Over the past two years, the COABC and the University of British Columbia have been working together to develop a web application, LiteFarm, which joins scientists and farmers together to advance science, and to help organically minded farmers manage the financial and environmental sustainability of their operations.

The key feature that separates LiteFarm from the many farm data management tools currently available to farmers is that it is a completely community-driven, not-for-profit solution which joins scientists and farmers together to try and solve the problems of climate change, sustainable farming, biodiversity decline, and the production of healthy and nutritious food. The platform is built to tackle the many socio-ecological dimensions of farming and has engagement across a wide spectrum of partners with a long-term interest in making the world a better place.

During this session, it is with great pleasure that COABC and UBC will officially launch the beta version of LiteFarm with the community of farmers that helped create it. You will be able to try the application, and give feedback on the features and development plans for the year ahead.

Introduction to iCertify, COABC's New Online Organic Certification System
Crystal Arsenault (iCertify Program Coordinator)
Corinne Impey (iCertify Program Coordinator)

Join us for a hands-on session aimed at helping you make the most of iCertify, our new, easy-to-use online organic certification system (coming in early 2020). Bring your laptop!

Organic Research Extension Panel
Kent Mulnix (Research Director – Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, KPU)
Sean Smuckler (Research Chair - Agriculture and Environment, UBC)
Renee Prasad (Assistant Professor – Agriculture, UFV)
DeLisa Lewis
Rebecca Harbut

Will outline research that is currently being done into best practices and innovative technologies in organic agriculture, and seek to begin building a model of research extension that is useful and accessible for BC organic producers.

Organic Small Fruit Production
Juli Carillo (Acting Academic Director – Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, UBC)
Mel Sylvestre (Perennials Manager – Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, UBC)
Julia Common (Hives for Humanity)

Will present results from ongoing research on best practices and innovative strategies for insect management in berries, with a focus on beneficial insects (pollinators and predators for bio-control) and pest management. Will also include general discussion on lessons learnt and best practices for organic small fruit production in BC.

Organic Standards Bootcamp
DeLisa Lewis (COABC Accreditation Board)
Renee Prasad (COABC Accreditation Board)

This interactive session will include the examination of different scenarios that require examination of the standards and a (fun!) quiz. This session is designed to empower the participants to take ownership of the interpretation of the standard.

Q&A on the Organic Standards
Rochelle Eisen(COABC Accreditation Board)
Anne Macey (COABC Accreditation Board)

Got a question about the standards, a SIC interpretation? Wondering what is coming down the pike with the new standards being published in late 2020? Rochelle and Anne will try to answer all.

Social Fairness in Organic Standards
Susanna Klassen (Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, UBC)
Anne Macey

How is the organic community embodying the principle of fairness in organic agriculture? Where do we want to be in terms of upholding social justice on our farms, and how can we get there? This session will bring together different perspectives to look at social justice in the organic sector, including current patterns in labour and employment, ongoing struggles of migrant workers, and making social fairness part of the federal organic standards. Bring an open heart and an open mind and let's re-envision the organic sector's role in achieving social justice in the food system.

The Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis: Unleashing the Power of Farmers to Fight Climate Change.
Stuart Oke (Youth President – National Farmer’s Union (NFU))

The climate crisis is real and worsening and farmers in many cases are on the front lines of the impacts being felt. In this moment of climate urgency big bold solutions are needed and like all industries and people farmers must consider how they and their farms can be part of the solution. In this session join Stuart Oke National Farmers Union Youth President as he explores the recently released NFU climate report and discusses how we can unleash farmers to be part of a powerful solution to the climate crisis.

Where is genetic engineering heading? Our response to products, PR and techniques
Lucy Sharratt (Coordinator - Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN))

Join this interactive workshop to discuss where the genetic engineering experiment heading. The US has new "disclosure" legislation but Canada still has no labelling; the biotech industry says that new gene editing techniques are not GM and don't need regulation; the world's first GM food animal is a GM salmon now in production in PEI; some GM alfalfa is being grown in the East but could it come out West? Come and join us to get the latest, most relevant information and to discuss the issues for organic farmers and consumers. How can we most effectively assert the organic vision in the face of the genetic engineering experiment?

Farm Tours:

Research Farm Tour: Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC Farm
Laura Morillas (Research Manager - Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, UBC)

Tour of teaching and research farm that will highlight recent and current research projects looking into new technologies and strategies and best practices in organic agriculture.

Teaching Farm Tour: KPU Richmond Teaching Farm
Rebecca Harbut (Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, KPU)
Mike Bomford (Institute for Sustainable Food Systems, KPU)

Tour of teaching farm that will highlight recent and current research projects, education programs, and transition to certified organic.

Read BCOG Summer 2020