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Almost 2000 attend Guelph Organic Conference


March 2, 2009
By Guelph Organic Conference

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March 2, 2009, Guelph, Ont. – In its 28th year at the Guelph University
Centre, the Guelph Organic Conference drew between 1,800 and 2,100
participants, including more than 160 exhibitors.

March 2, 2009, Guelph, Ont. – In its 28th year at the Guelph University Centre, the Guelph Organic Conference drew between 1,800 and 2,100 participants, including more than 160 exhibitors.

More than 45 program speakers covered the many viable opportunities on the horizon for Canadian organics.

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“In these so-called recession times, the organic crowds are still pretty inspiring,” said Tomás Nimmo, conference manager. “We call it Organic Central – a four-day network event for the hundreds who travelled from all over Canada to attend.”

Many positive messages came out of the 35 workshop forums. One was that society is becoming more aware and in-tune with its food supply. The direct link now seen between modern food systems and health, social equality and the economy means that we're shifting towards sustainable thinking.  Keeping with the conference goals, organic farm producers are leading the way by opening their doors.

As awareness around society’s carbon footprint widens, the terms LOCAL and ORGANIC are becoming synonymous, as pointed out by keynote presenter and author, Dr. Wayne Roberts of the Toronto Food Policy Council.

“The myth that organic food is for hippies who want to eat composting food is dead wrong,” Dr. Roberts said. “Organic production is smart, realistic, productive, and effective. It could be a leading light in addressing action on climate change.”

A popular addition this year was the Farmers’ Markets Forum with a panel made up of actual market organizers, a farmer and an educated consumer. The audience – a mix of farmers and people wanting to start farmers' markets – included Hermann Bruns, a certified, production-scale organic market gardener from B.C.'s North Okanagan. He founded the Revelstoke Farmers’ Market and had some valuable tips to add to the discussion dynamics.

“This event was well-attended and surprisingly upbeat, given the mood of the overall economy,” said Karen Burson, who attended the conference for the first time and mediated the forum. “There were many success stories and interesting insights.”

The next Organic Conference will be at the University of Guelph in late January 2010. Dates will be finalized in May 2009.

For a complete list of the 2009 Expo exhibitors and guest speakers, visit www.guelphorganicconf.ca. On request, the printed 70-page proceedings document will be mailed to you (contains detailed summaries). The proceedings will also be posted very soon as a PDF on the conference web site.