Sold Out Organic Grower Summit Extols the Importance of Keeping the Organic Brand Strong

Underscoring the vibrancy of opportunities in organic produce, the first ever Organic Grower Summit (OGS) presented by CCOF and the Organic Produce Network (OPN), was an energetic, sold-out event with more than 800 attendees.   Growers large and small joined other organic industry leaders and entrepreneurs in underscoring the need for strong, well-enforced standards as essential to the continued growth of consumer demand for fresh organic products.

The one-and-a-half-day event, held December 13-14, 2017 at the Monterey Hyatt Resort & Spa, kicked off with Pest Control Advisor (PCA) training, followed by a high-energy gala opening reception and the CCOF Foundation dinner on the evening of December 13. The inaugural event continued on December 14thwith full capacity morning education and keynote sessions, followed by a bustling, sold-out exhibition. Unique to OGS, sponsor Costco Wholesale held a “Meet the Grower” program, matching organic growers and farmers with buyers for the leading organic retailer.

Ocean Mist

“The inaugural Organic Grower Summit was a resounding success,” said CCOF Executive Director Cathy Calfo.  “Sold out, forward-looking, and benefiting the work of the CCOF Foundation to launch the next generation of organic professionals.”  As part of the CCOF-OPN collaboration of hosting the inaugural OGS, OPN gave a $50,000 donation to the CCOF Foundation for their work with organic growers and farmers across the nation.

OGS Opening Reception, (from left to right) Heather Shavey - Costco, Vernon Peterson - Grower of the Year, Carol Peterson - Peterson Family Farms and Abundant Harvest Organic, Cherie France - Homegrown Organic Farms, Seth Tillery - Tillery Organic Farms

(from left to right) Greg Milstead - AGCO, Cathy Calfo - CCOF, Vernon Peterson - Grower of the Year, Peterson Family Farms, Abundant Harvest Organic

Organics Unlimited

Image 3 - OGS Grower Roundtable (from left to right) - Scott LaRue, Piper Jaffray - Stan Pura, Mission Ranches, Jeff Huckaby - Grimmway Farms, Victor Smith - J.V. Farms

In the “Issues Facing Organic Farmers Today” breakout session, panelist Arnott Duncan of Duncan Family Farms cautioned his fellow growers: “Organic integrity is critical to the success of our industry. People need to hear what that means to us…Our industry can’t afford the perception that we cut corners,” he said.

As a panelist in the “Grower Roundtable: From Wall Street to Main Street, Organic Means Good Business,” keynote session, Jeff Huckaby, President of Grimmway Farms told the story of a recent visit from US Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. He took up just two issues with the Secretary: labor and robust organic standards. “Integrity of organics must stay strong. The standards can’t be watered down for the industry to thrive,” Huckaby said.

Organic Produce Network (OPN)

During the keynote session, Grower of the Year Award recipient Vernon Peterson of Peterson Family Farm and Abundant Harvest Organic accepted his award. Reinforcing another recurrent theme of the Summit, Peterson advised, “If you start with ‘I’m an organic farmer,’ people will listen. We have to find our voice. If we don’t use it, we’ll lose our precious agriculture in California.”

Industry response to the first ever OGS was highly enthusiastic, with sponsors, exhibitors and attendees giving the event high marks.  “I have been selling organic fertilizer for over three decades and have been waiting for a great show like this. Thank you OGS,” said Tim Stemwedel of California Organic Fertilizers.

Other educational and keynote sessions at OGS included:

  • Leveraging Precision Agriculture
  • Tools for Plant and Soil Heath
  • Organic Disruption — Cannabis: The Next Frontier
  • Essentials of Sustainable Packaging through the Supply Chain
  • Clean and Renewable Technology
  • A View from the Capitol
  • The Changing Retail Landscape: Organic Meal Delivery Direct to Consumers

Expressing a common reaction to the event, attendee Chris Glynn, Director of Organics for Tanimura & Antle said, “It was incredibly professional and brought together highly relevant speakers who delivered quality content. I was very impressed that the OGS was able to so effectively reach a broad audience geographically and from a crop and issue perspective,” he said.

The over 800 attendees included more than 300 growers/farmers of all sizes, a wide range of organic supply chain partners and service providers, as well as related state and federal ag leaders.  While the majority hailed from the West Coast, attendees came from eight countries, including Bahrain. The sold-out trade show brought those 300+ growers together to more than 70 exhibitors from around the globe.

“It’s tremendous how much of our industry is here at OGS,” said exhibitor John Maxon of True Organic Products. “An outstanding event that provided excellent educational networking opportunities.”

The second annual Organic Grower Summit is scheduled for December 12 and 13, 2018 at the newly renovated Monterey Conference Center.

Grower Roundtable: Wall Street Wants Organic!

Grower Roundtable: Wall Street Wants Organic!

With sales of organic food representing just five percent of total food----but growing 13 times faster than the entire food category-----organic food companies are a very attractive investment to Wall Street.  One of the most anticipated sessions of the sold-out inaugural Organic Grower Summit, “Grower Roundtable: From Wall Street to Main Street, Organic Means Good Business,” explored the opportunities and challenges of public and private investments in this growing organic food category.

Read More
The Inaugural Organic Grower Summit Meant Business

The Inaugural Organic Grower Summit Meant Business

By Melody Meyer

I consider myself one of the lucky 800 attendees of the inaugural Organic Grower Summit.  From the moment I stepped onto the hotel grounds I knew this was going to be unlike any other organic gathering I had attended.

Read More
Coliman Emerges as a Leading Supplier for Booming Organic-Fairtrade Banana Demand

Coliman Emerges as a Leading Supplier for Booming Organic-Fairtrade Banana Demand

The organic banana business is booming and, Coliman is an emerging leader with a unique position of proprietary supply.

Read More
Weekly Top 5: Organic News You Need to Know 

Weekly Top 5: Organic News You Need to Know 

  1. Non-GMO Project Co-Creator Buys into Organic Certification
  2. Organic Fibre Netting Offers Alternative to Plastic in the Fresh Produce Industry
  3. Wendell Hahn and Ray Taglialatela to Retire from Four Seasons Produce with a Legacy of Leadership, Development and Integrity
  4. Florida Produce Giant Enters Organic Arena
  5. Gladstone Land Acquires Organic Almond Orchard and Expands Facility
Read More

Florida produce giant enters organic arena

Read More
Organic Produce Network (OPN)