Our Executive Director, Dave Chapman, gives an excellent overview of why we exist, where we are today, and where we are heading in the video above. You can also read his insightful recap of the Symposium here.
Talks were given by:
Eliot Coleman, Anne Biklé, Dave Mortensen, Jean-Paul Courtens, Emily Oakley, Linley Dixon, Onika Abraham, Harriet Behar, Francis Thicke, Jay Feldman, Alan Lewis, Caitlin Frame, Cameron Molberg, Paul Muller, Hugh Kent, and Dave Chapman. Sign up to have these video presentations delivered directly to your inbox.
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Our mission is to grow people’s understanding of foundational organic values and practices. Our first goal is to create an add-on label to USDA certified organic to provide more transparency on organic farming practices.
Crops grown in soil and livestock raised on pasture are fundamental to organic farming.
The Real Organic Project is family farmer-driven and embraces centuries-old organic farming practices along with new scientific knowledge of ecological farming. Healthy soil equals healthy crops and livestock, which equals healthy people and a healthy climate.
The USDA has recently embraced hydroponics as organic and has dropped the proposed rule on animal welfare. This has created a disconnect between organic farming's role in fostering healthy soils and practices now allowed under the organic seal. Many farmers feel the USDA organic label no longer adequately reflects how we farm, and many in our community feel a loss of identity within the label. Our community worked for years to build an organic label that people can trust.
Much about the National Organic Program is a success and most of the farms being certified deserve to be called real organic.
But the farm products from a minority of operations now being certified are at odds with the original intent of organic farming. Unfortunately, these industrial monoculture and confinement operations produce a large and growing proportion of the food labeled organic on the market today.
With our add-on, farmers are creating a new way of communicating our practices to eaters who care. USDA organic certification is a prerequisite to participate in the add-on program. Our simple goal is transparency in the marketplace. Through this effort, we have brought together farmers, scientists, eaters, and advocates whose common interest is to support real organic farming.
Our strategy is educational. Our goal is transformational!
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The Real Organic Project is a family-farmer driven effort to educate and connect organic farmers and eaters.Checks in any amount can be mailed to:
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Eliot Coleman is world famous as an organic pioneer. He is a farmer, author, agricultural researcher and educator. His 1989 book, The New Organic Grower, is important reading for organic farmers. He served for two years as Executive Director of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). He was an advisor to the USDA during its 1979–80 study, Report And Recommendations On Organic Farming, a document that formed the basis for today’s USDA National Organic Program.
Eliot has trained many organic farmers and has inspired countless others. With his partner Barbara Damrosch and daughter Clara Coleman, he runs Four Season Farm in Maine.
Jim Riddle and his partner Joyce run Blue Fruit Farm in Minnesota. They were certified organic produce growers in the 1980’s, and helped found the Winona, MN, Farmers Market. They founded the International Organic Inspectors Association in 1991; and co-authored the International Organic Inspection Manual.
He was co-author of the Organic Trade Association’s American Organic Standards, which pre-dated the NOP. Jim served a 5-year term on the USDA National Organic Standards Board (2001–2006).
He is currently on the Steering Committee Chair of the Organic Farmers Association.
Joan Dye Gussow has an Ed.D. in Nutrition Education from Columbia’s Teachers College. Shortly after graduating, she was hired by Teachers College to become the chair of the nutrition department, creating the legendary course, Nutritional Ecology.
In 1971, she testified in front of a Congressional Committee about the poor quality of the foods advertised to children on television. Her testimony was also published in the Journal of Nutrition Education scandalizing significant portions of her chosen profession.
Joan is the former chair of the Nutrition Education Program at Columbia University, where she has been a long-time analyst and critic of the U.S. food system. She served a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board. www.joansgarden.org
Jeff Moyer is Executive Director of Rodale Institute. His expertise includes organic crop production systems with a focus on weed management, cover crops, crop rotations, equipment modification and use, and facilities design. Jeff is perhaps most well-known for conceptualizing and popularizing the No-Till Roller Crimper for use in organic agriculture. In 2011, he wrote Organic No-Till Farming, a publication that has become a resource for farmers throughout the world.
Jeff brings a farmer’s perspective and approach to issues in organic agriculture. He is a past chair of the National Organic Standards Board, a founding board member of Pennsylvania Certified Organic, the Chairman of the Board of Director of The Seed Farm, part of the Green America Non-GMO Working Group, a Project Member of The Noble Foundation’s Soil Renaissance project, and a Board Member of PA Farm Link.
Barbara Damrosch has worked professionally in the field of horticulture since 1977. She writes, consults and lectures on gardening and is co-owner, with her husband Eliot Coleman, of Four Season Farm, an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine.
From May 2003 to September 2017 she wrote a weekly column for The Washington Post called “A Cook’s Garden.” She is the author of several books, The Garden Primer, Theme Gardens, and The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook, co-authored with Eliot, which won the American Horticultural Society’s Book Award in 2014. Her writing has also been published extensively in national magazines.
Paul Hawken is an environmentalist, entrepreneur, author and activist who has dedicated his life to environmental sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. He is one of the environmental movement’s leading voices, and a pioneering architect of corporate reform with respect to ecological practices. His work includes founding successful, ecologically conscious businesses, writing about the impacts of commerce on living systems, and consulting with heads of state and CEOs on economic development, industrial ecology, and environmental policy. Paul is Executive Director of Project Drawdown, a non-profit dedicated to researching when and how global warming can be reversed. The organization maps and models the scaling of one hundred substantive technological, social, and ecological solutions to global warming.
Paul has appeared in numerous media including the Today Show, Larry King, Talk of the Nation, Charlie Rose, and has been profiled or featured in hundreds of articles including the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Washington Post, Business Week, Esquire, and US News and World Report. His writings have appeared in the Harvard Business Review, Resurgence, New Statesman, Inc, Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Mother Jones, Utne Reader, Orion, and many other publications.
Paul authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written seven books including four national bestsellers: The Next Economy (Ballantine, 1983), Growing a Business (Simon and Schuster, 1987), The Ecology of Commerce (HarperCollins, 1993) and Blessed Unrest (Viking, 2007). The Ecology of Commerce was voted as the #1 college text on business and the environment by professors in 67 business schools. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, 1999) co-authored with Amory Lovins, has been read and referred to by several heads of state including President Bill Clinton who called it one of the five most important books in the world today. His books have been published in over 50 countries in 28 languages. Growing a Business became the basis of a 17-part PBS series, which he hosted and produced. The program, which explored the challenges and pitfalls of starting and operating socially responsive companies, was shown on television in 115 countries and reached more than 100 million people. Paul wrote and edited Drawdown in collaboration its research team. He is also authoring a book entitled Carbon, The Business of Life, to be published by Penguin Random House in 2018. paulhawken.com
Marian Blom is widely acknowledged in the EU as the most qualified expert on organic greenhouse standards. She has worked with Americans trying to bring together the EU and American organic movements. She is a Council Member of IFOAM EU and a Regulation Officer for the Dutch organization Bionext. She traveled to the U.S. last November to testify to the NOSB and NOC in Jacksonville about European organic standards which prohibit hydroponics.
She has written that “for an organic farmer, the link with the soil is indeed one of the most important aspects of organic farming. It is what ties the organic sector together, and determines a large part of its production rules. This is true for an arable farmer who has to prevent soil compaction, stimulate soil biodiversity, and promote soil fertility, if he or she wants to achieve good crops. And this is also true for a poultry farmer who has to maintain an attractive outdoor run for his or her poultry, and has to make sure that the chicken manure ends up on organic land. And it is true for a greenhouse grower, who needs to feed the soil that feeds the plants.
“In the high-tech world that greenhouse horticulture has become, people tend to forget that greenhouse growers are subject to this general approach, just as other farmers are. I am convinced that this focus on soil is a true strength of the organic sector. Setting soil and soil quality as the basis of your production system makes you responsible for what you do with this resource. This limitation, as some would call it, leads to innovation. It leads to in-depth knowledge of how the soil works, innovation in machinery, and in water giving strategies. Knowledgeable growers use this shared basis of action to produce sustainable products that consumers all over the world like to buy.”
Jesse Buie has been farming for 20 years and currently works as President/Farmer of Ole Brook Organics, Inc, which has been certified organic for three years. Jesse is a current member of the National Organic Standards Board.
His farm produces mixed vegetables and melons. He is starting to grow ginger and turmeric in Mississippi to produce a private label organic tea.
In addition to farming, he keeps himself busy as the President and CEO of Total Care Solutions, a healthcare management firm; Owner and Chief Pilot of Airtravel South, Inc., a pilot training and aircraft rental company; and Co-Owner of Capital City Children’s & Adolescent’s Clinic, which provides health services for ages birth to 21 years.
Jesse is a Veteran of the United States Army Medical Service Corps, last serving as a Major before retirement. He was awarded both the Army Achievement Medal for Meritorious Service and the Army Commendation Medal. He received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, Cum Laude, from Dillard University, New Orleans, LA, and a Master of Public Health from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Zoë Ida Bradbury
Born onto a sheep ranch along the southern Oregon coast, Zoë (age 38) grew up birthing lambs in the spring, watching salmon spawn in the fall, and taming plums and tomatoes into canning jars all summer. Her love for food, farming and rural livelihood ultimately lured her back to her native southern Oregon where she has run a diversified fresh market farm – Valley Flora – since 2008, on land shared with her mother and sister.
With her two young daughters in tow, she cultivates a couple hundred varieties of vegetable, berry, fruit, herb and flower crops for local restaurants, foodbanks, farmstand, u-pick, and 100+ CSA shares (all with the help of one old electric tractor, one young diesel tractor, three draft horses, and a couple of wonderful employees). She graduated from Stanford University and has a Masters degree in Community Change and Food Systems. She is a Food & Society Policy Fellow, has written for a number of publications over the years, and co-edited Greenhorns: 50 Dispatches from the New Farmers’ Movement.
Will Raap is an environmental entrepreneur and founder and Chair of Gardener's Supply, the first national company to offer the best horticultural solutions from small-scale organic farms and master gardeners from around the world to North American home gardeners. Will and Gardener’s Supply also incubated and helped to launch the Intervale Center, Seventh Generation, Living Technologies, The Earth Partners, and Restoring Our Watershed.
Since 1987 the Intervale Center, a non-profit organization located in Burlington, Vermont, has been developing farm- and land-based enterprises that generate economic and social opportunity while protecting natural resources including the largest composting project in VT, Intervale Conservation Nursery, Intervale Agricultural Consulting Services (serving 100’s of VT farms and dozens of communities nationally) and the Intervale Food Hub, plus dozens of small, privately owned farms that participate in the Center’s nationally acclaimed farm incubator program.
Will has also been involved in helping to transform economic systems to become more regenerative, as co-founder and past Chair of New Economy Coalition, co-chair of a project that laid the groundwork for VT Farm to Plate and member of the founding board of VT Energy Action Network. More recently, Will has been developing businesses and associations in Vermont and Costa Rica to ‘re-localize medicine’ with botanical plant production and processing just as Gardener’s Supply and the Intervale Center led the re-localization of food for the past 4 decades.
Maddie Kempner is the Policy Director of NOFA VT. Maddie worked with the VT Right to Know GMOs Coalition to help pass Vermont’s GMO labeling law.
Maddie is passionate about advocating for positive food and farm policy change. She has a Master of Environmental Law and Policy from Vermont Law School.
Active in the movement to Keep The Soil In Organic, Maddie has spoken at Rallies in both Vermont and Jacksonville, Florida. She has testified numerous times to the NOSB to protect organic integrity.
Walter Jehne (the one kicking!) is an internationally recognized soil microbiologist and innovation strategist with extensive experience in research, and the design and commercialization of innovations. His specialisation is the regeneration, rehydration and productivity of soils and landscapes and their sustainable water, food and habitat outcome potentials.
Walter has an exceptional ability to explain complex science and economic paths forward in easy to understand ways. His immense field, commerce and research experience includes three decades with grasslands, crops, forests and soils at national (CSIRO), international (UN) level, and NGO level. He has also worked more broadly beyond science, at Federal Government level, leading transformation in industry for two decades. This diversity of interest and experience has given Walter an exceptional and unique capacity to devise simple solutions to comprehensive problems. He makes challenges opportunities.
In 2017, he was part of an invitation-only UN FAO conference in Paris looking at bringing soil into the next IPCC report.
Dan Kittredge is the founder and life-long farmer who launched The Real Food Campaign (RFC) in 2008, to empower and educate farmers towards the production of quality food for the improvement of human health. In 2008 and 2009 RFC made major strides in developing a cohesive local, national and global vision, and networked nationally to build the base to implement its mission.
Under Dan’s leadership in 2009-2010 RFC began holding yearlong courses on Nutrient Dense Crop Production and building a professional team of staff.
Since then, the organization has grown from a volunteer campaign with one staff person to a nationally recognized non-profit organization with a dedicated team of professional staff, volunteers and consultants. The new name — Bionutrient Food Association (BFA) — conveys an expanding technical expertise and BFA’s role as a resource to all who are interested in this emerging field.
Lisa Bunin is co-founder and director of the woman-owned consulting firm, Organic Advocacy. Lisa designs and directs projects aimed at moving organic food and agriculture from the margins to the mainstream. Partnering with innovative organic farmers, organic business, and public interest organizations, her collaborative projects advance and improve organic food production systems.
Well-known for her leadership and active participation in organic policy-making arenas, Lisa's environmental research and advocacy spans several decades and continents. As Senior Organic Policy Director at Center for Food Safety, her work focused on curbing the spread of harmful food production technologies by challenging compromises to organic integrity and advocating organic solutions.
While living in Europe, Lisa served as NGO delegate to the UN's London Dumping Convention, working with governments and NGOs to successfully halt the incineration of toxic waste at sea, worldwide. Appointed to Santa Cruz County's Genetic Engineering Taskforce, she co-edited a study that convinced Supervisors to enact a moratorium on planting GE crops. Lisa has taught college courses on national and international environmental policy, social movements, and social change.
She is treasurer of the Ecological Farming Association Board, an Advisor to the National Organic Coalition, and regularly blogs on organic-related issues.
Ed Maltby, Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, is a producer with over 45 years experience managing conventional and organic dairy, beef, sheep and vegetable enterprises on a variety of different farms in Europe and the United States. For the past twenty years, Ed has worked with regional farms to cooperatively market their products into mainstream markets, ranging from direct marketing of lambs and organic produce, to establishing a cooperative of dairy farmers who direct market their own brand of milk in Western Massachusetts. Since 2005, Ed has worked as Executive Director of NODPA, an organic family farm member organization dedicated to preserving organic integrity and a sustainable pay price for farmers. He also developed sister organizations in the Midwest and West, and a national umbrella organization, Federation of Organic Dairy Farmers (FOOD Farmers), to provide a national voice for organic dairy family farms. Since the start of his tenure, the organization has developed into a recognizable national voice on organic dairy policy.
Harriet Behar has been working extensively in the organic industry for 27 years. She has been an active independent organic inspector from 1989-2014, and conducted final reviews for multiple certifiers in the 2000s. She currently works as a Senior Organic Specialist at the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES) and is a Technical Service Provider for the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). For over 20 years, Ms. Behar has been active in education, teaching courses in crop, handling, and livestock scopes for the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), as well as teaching organic production and conservation at on-farm venues, conferences and full day seminars to a wide variety of farmers, ranchers, food processors and agricultural professionals.
Ms. Behar attended the University of Wisconsin, leaving early to farm full-time. With her husband, Ms. Behar owns and operates Sweet Springs Farm in Wisconsin, growing certified organic vegetables, and culinary and medicinal herbs since 1989. The farm also raises chickens for eggs and meat, and manages a number of honeybee hives. The farm provides Ms. Behar the opportunity to work in all aspects of farm management, from early planning stages through end market sales.
David Mortensen is professor of weed and applied plant ecology in the College of Agricultural Sciences at Penn State. He is currently serving a five-year term on the board as a farming systems ecotoxicology expert.
Mortensen’s research focuses on the underpinning ecology of food production systems and how specific methods of production enhance or degrade the integrity of those systems. He and his colleagues study practices such as cover cropping, with a particular focus on how such methods enhance ecosystem integrity through weed suppression, soil-quality improvement, and provisioning of pollinators and natural enemies.
His groundbreaking work quantifying the increased reliance on pesticide use in commodity crop production and its deleterious effects on ecosystem integrity has shaped national policy governing crop and pesticide use. He travels around the country speaking with farmers and fellow scientists and has testified about his work in Washington, D.C.
He also has consulted with federal policymakers in the United States and with the European Union. His work has been published in such journals as BioScience, Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, and Trends in Ecology and Evolution.
Mortensen takes a hybrid approach to his research, involving field experimentation — often with collaborating farmers — and quantitative modeling. Over the course of his 31 years on the faculty at Penn State and at the University of Nebraska, and through his academic training at Duke and North Carolina State universities, he has conducted on-farm research in fields from the coastal plain of North Carolina to the Mississippi River delta, and from Pennsylvania to the heartland of Iowa and Nebraska.
“I can’t over-emphasize the importance of interacting with farmers throughout my career,” he said. ‘It increases dramatically the likelihood that our research remains relevant to the farming community and ecosystem integrity. I’m excited to bring the depth and breadth of my experiences in American farming systems to this role as a scientist on the NOSB.”
Mortensen brings a deep understanding of the inputs used in organic and conventional farming and their ecotoxicological effects on nontarget organisms. Through his research, he has gained detailed knowledge about the intended and unintended consequences of some production practices that may be portrayed as reducing external inputs in farming but that can cause significant risks to worker health and ecosystems.
Mortensen has taught courses on the ecology of agricultural systems, ecologically based pest management, plant ecology, and the urbanization of rural landscapes. He received his academic training in plant ecology at Duke University and in crop science at North Carolina State University. He also chairs a national USDA committee that allocates funds to conduct ecologically based pest-management research and serves on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture.
Mortensen’s work has been recognized within the College of Agricultural Sciences and beyond. He has received the college's Alex and Jessie C. Black Award for Excellence in Research, the Weed Science Society of America's awards for outstanding research and outstanding paper, and the Edward D. Bellis Award in Ecology from Penn State.
Liz Henderson is a founder of Peacework Organic CSA, one of the oldest CSAs in the United States. She farmed at Peacework for over thirty years. She is also the author of a seminal work on CSA farming called Sharing the Harvest, also available in Spanish. Liz has been involved in numerous initiatives in the food movement, from work with the Agricultural Justice Project to helping farmers have a voice in the National Organic Foods Production Act. Liz works internationally with IFOAM and with Urgenci, the International Network for Community Supported Agriculture. Liz serves as a board member of NOFA-NY and the Agricultural Justice Project. She has worked for many years to bring greater respect and wages to both farmworkers and family-scale farmers. She is very concerned about issues of scale and power in farming and how this affects us all.
Stuart Hill is a longtime friend to organic farming. He was one of the first in the scientific community to “cross the street” to the organic world. An early speaker at NOFA conferences, he was a professor at McGill University. He once told me that those early scientists who crossed over had to publish twice as much just to keep any respect in the academic community. Fortunately for us, he was up to the task. He is a delight to talk with, and he has taught much to many of us.
He is the Foundation Chair of Social Ecology at the University of Western Sydney. At UWS he taught units on Qualitative Research Methodology, Social Ecology Research, Transformative Learning, Leadership and Change, and Sustainability, Leadership and Change (he retired in 2009 and is now an Emeritus Professor in their School of Education).
His PhD was one of the first whole ecosystem studies that examined community and energy relationships (1969); and it was the earliest such study conducted by a single researcher. For this, he received the awards for Best PhD Thesis and Best PhD Student. In 1977 he received a Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for his community and social transformation work.
In 1977, in Canada, he produced a report for the New Brunswick Government on Energy and Agriculture that detailed many of the resource, environment and climate issues that are at last being recognized today. Since then he has produced many more cutting edge reports, and has been an advisor to several ministers.
Prior to 1996, he was at McGill University, in Montreal, where he was responsible for the zoology degree, and where in 1974 he established Ecological Agriculture Projects, Canada’s leading resource centre for sustainable agriculture, and the first such centre in the world within a university (www.eap.mcgill.ca).
Hill has published over 350 papers and reports. His latest books are Ecological Pioneers: A Social History of Australian Ecological Thought and Action (with Dr Martin Mulligan; Cambridge UP, 2001), Learning for Sustainable Living: Psychology of Ecological Transformation (with Dr Werner Sattmann-Frese; Lulu, 2008) and Social Ecology: Applying Ecological Understanding to our Lives and our Planet (with Dr David Wright and Dr Catherine Camden-Pratt; Hawthorn, 2011).
Since 2003 he has contributed ground-breaking chapters to nine books: A social ecology dialogue across Aboriginal and White cultures in Between the Lines: Social Ecologies in Border Landscapes (with Dr Carol Birrell; 2015 in press); Considerations for enabling the ecological redesign of organic and conventional agriculture: a social ecology and psychological perspective in Organic Farming: Prototype for Sustainable Agricultures (2014); Social ecology: an Australian perspective in Social Ecology (2011); Four key features of Permaculture, and an opportunity for the future in Permaculture Pioneers: Stories from the New Frontier(2011); Enabling redesign for deep industrial ecology and personal values transformation, in Industrial Ecology and Spaces of Innovation (2006); Redesign as deep industrial ecology: lessons from ecological agriculture and social ecology, in Industrial Ecology: A Question of Design? (2006); Social ecology as a framework for understanding and working with social capital and sustainability within rural communities, in A Dynamic Balance: Social Capital and Sustainable Community Development (2005); Learning Ecology: A New Approach to Learning and Transforming Ecological Consciousness: Experiences from Social Ecology in Australia, in Learning Toward An Ecological Consciousness: Selected Transformative Practices (2004); and Autonomy, mutualistic relationships, sense of place, and conscious caring: a hopeful view of the present and future, in Changing Places: Re-imagining Australia (2003).
In Canada he was a member of over 30 regional, national and international boards and committees. He is currently on the editorial board of five international refereed journals, and until 2004 he represented professional environmental educators on the NSW Council on Environmental Education.
Stuart has worked in agricultural and development projects in the West Indies, French West Africa, Indonesia, The Philippines, China, the Seychelles, the UK, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. His work in the Seychelles to make a whole coralline island completely self-sufficient in food and energy is particularly significant.
His background in chemical engineering, ecology, soil biology, entomology, agriculture, psychotherapy, education, policy development and international development, and his experience of working with transformative change, has enabled him to be an effective facilitator in complex situations that demand collaboration across difference and a long-term co-evolutionary approach to situation improvement. These skills were used extensively in his recent role as Provocateur for the Victorian Government (for DPI & DSE: 2004-2005).
Mary Ellen Chadd, 38 years old, started Green Spark Farm in 2009 and now farms full-time year-round with her husband and two little daughters. Mary Ellen attended Evergreen State College majoring in Ecological Agriculture and Community Food Systems.
Before starting her farm in her home-town area in Maine, she worked with the New American Sustainable Agriculture Project there, writing curriculum and training refugees and new Americans in farming systems, marketing for farmers, and farm business planning.
She contributes to the new farmer community by speaking at MOFGA classes and events. Her farm has employed and mentored six young farmers who have gone on to start their own farm businesses.
Fred Kirschenmann serves as board chair of Stone Barns Center For Food And Agriculture. He has spent most of his life working to change how we farm, as well as our relationship to the land.
For more than four decades, Fred has been a champion of agricultural resilience, an articulate advocate for soil health and a pioneer of organic farming. His work has helped transform what was once obscure and marginal work—resilient, sustainable agriculture focused on the health and restoration of the soil—into an international movement.
A longtime national and international leader in sustainable agriculture, Fred is Distinguished Fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Iowa State University and a professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy. He also continues to manage his family’s 1,800-acre certified-organic farm in south-central North Dakota.
Fred holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He has held numerous appointments, including the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board and the National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
In April 2010, the University Press of Kentucky published Fred’s book of essays, Cultivating an Ecological Conscience: Essays from a Farmer Philosopher, which traces the evolution of his ecological and farming philosophy over the past 30 years.
In 1976, Fred converted his family’s farm in North Dakota to a certified organic operation, developing a diverse crop rotation that has enabled him to farm productively without synthetic inputs (fertilizers or pesticides) while simultaneously improving the health of the soil. His farm has been featured in numerous publications including National Geographic, Business Week, Audubon, the LA Times and Gourmet magazine. In 1995 it was profiled in an award-winning video, My Father’s Garden, by Miranda Smith Productions, and is still widely used as a teaching tool.
Fred also has been an advisor for several documentaries including American Meat and Symphony of the Soil. He served as the Leopold Center’s second director from July 2000 to November 2005 and has been recognized widely for his work. In 2014 he received the One World Award for Lifetime Achievement. He also was one of the first 10 recipients of the James F. Beard Foundation Leadership awards in 2011 and received the 2012 Sustainable Agriculture Achievement Award from Practical Farmers of Iowa. In 2014, Fred received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).
Steve Ela is a farmer from Colorado. He is co-owner of Ela Family Farms, which has been certified organic since 1996. He is a current member of the National Organic Standards Board. He was an Organic Farming Research Foundation board member from 2001–2011 and previous OFRF board Chairman.
Steve has been an organizer for several National Organic Tree Fruit Research Symposiums and has participated in and written grants for numerous research projects. Steve has a Master’s in Soil Science, and has served on a wide variety of Boards and Advisory Committees addressing food and agriculture issues nationally, regionally, and locally.
David Montgomery and Anne Biklé are Dig2Grow, a husband & wife and a pair of writers who live in Seattle. Dave is a broad-minded geologist and Anne is a free-range biologist with a bad case of plant lust. They chose Dig2Grow because “that’s what happens when you write, talk, and act on things that matter to the well-being of people and our one-and-only planet.”
They both speak widely on the complex world of soil, plants, and animals. They have become champions for the revolution of regenerative agriculture taking place worldwide.
David is a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington. He is also a MacArthur Fellow.
Anne Biklé is a biologist with wide-ranging interests that have led her into watershed restoration, environmental planning, and public health.
David has written Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life and Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. Anne and David co-wrote the book The Hidden Half of Nature; The Microbial Roots of Life and Health.
Will Allen has taught anthropology and agriculture at the university level and has also farmed his entire life. He was one of the pioneers of organic farming in California and helped start the certification program through the California Certified Organic Farmers Organization. In 1990, Will founded the Sustainable Cotton Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping cotton growers transition to organic production, and working with cotton companies to encourage them to purchase and use organic cotton in their manufacturing processes. He is known throughout the U.S. and in other parts of the world as an expert on organic cotton. Currently, he serves on the policy and advisory board of the Organic Consumers Association Will and Kate are both founding board members of Farms Not Arms, an organization dedicated to bringing together people from the farming community to oppose the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In 2008, Will’s book, The War on Bugs, was published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company in White River Junction, Vermont. He is currently traveling throughout the country, promoting the book and meeting with activists who are anxious to work with him on educating the public about the dangers of the U.S.’s toxic chemical-based agriculture system. The public is becoming increasingly convinced, through efforts such as these, that organic farming is the key to the future health of people, as well as the environment.
Dr. Kris Nichols, Soil Microbiologist
KRIS Systems Education & Consulting Services
Dr. Kris Nichols is a leader in the movement to regenerate soils for healthy food, people, and the planet. She is currently the founder and principal scientist of KRIS (Knowledge for Regeneration In Soils) Systems Education & Consultation and a sub-contractor with Soil Health Consulting, Inc. Her current focus is to address present and future agricultural needs by exploring the similarities between the soil and gut microbiomes by looking at the carbon key. Kris builds upon a soil health foundation to identify biological methods for agricultural production and tools and practices to reduce pest issues, soil erosion, fossil fuel use, and greenhouse gas emissions. These systems are resilient and adapt to climatic uncertainty by increasing nutrient and water use efficiencies; improving pollinator activity and food security; and providing long-term solutions to agricultural economic viability, food insecurity, and the loss of ecosystem services. Kris continues to develop and evolve methodology and tools farmers, home-owners, and students may use to examine and appreciate their soil. Throughout her career, Kris has given over 250 invited presentations to a wide variety of audiences, authored or co-authored more than 25 peer-reviewed publications, been cited or interviewed for more than 50 magazine or newspaper articles, highlighted in five books, and has numerous videos on-line.
Dr. Nichols was the Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute from July 7, 2014 – January 12, 2018. There she oversaw approximately fifteen research trials on organic agriculture, including the Farming Systems Trial®, the longest-running side-by-side U.S. study comparing conventional chemical agriculture with organic, biologically-based methods and the initiation of the Vegetable Systems Trial. She was also instrumental in obtaining funding for these projects including recently being primarily responsible for the receipt of a ~$6 million, six-year project to explore the impacts of agricultural management practices on water quality in the Delaware River Watershed.
Prior to joining Rodale Institute, Dr. Nichols was a Research Soil Microbiologist with the USDA, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in North Dakota for 11 years and a Biological Laboratory Technician with ARS in Beltsville, MD for 3 years. During her time with USDA, she focused on mycorrhizal fungi and the investigation of glomalin – a substance produced by AM fungi. Glomalin contributes to nutrient cycling by protecting AM hyphae transporting nutrients from the soil to the plant and to soil structure and plant health by helping to form and stabilize soil aggregates.
Kris received Bachelor of Science degrees in Plant Biology and in Genetics and Cell Biology from the University of Minnesota in 1995, a Master’s degree in Environmental Microbiology from West Virginia University in 1999, and a Ph.D. in Soil Science from the University of Maryland in 2003. In recognition of her work, Dr. Nichols has received several awards including the 2012 Conservation Research Award from the International Soil and Water Conservation Society.
Real Organic Executive Board
Lisa Stokke is the Executive Director and founder of Next 7. This is a new and exciting non-profit organization focusing on solutions to our greatest issues with the next seven generations in mind. She is also very active with the Bionutrient Association's Real Food Campaign.
Lisa has been a lifetime advocate for healthy food systems. She co-founded Food Democracy Now!, a nonprofit organization of 750,000 members where for 9 years she advocated and brought awareness to the importance of organic and regenerative agriculture through progressive policies and regulations that benefit family farmers, citizens and the environment.
Her work through Food Democracy Now! has been featured in the book Modified (2016), and also in the New York Times, NPR, Politico and numerous other national publications. She was also recognized in Shape magazine as “Mom of the Year” and a “Woman Making a Difference.” She has spoken at numerous conferences as an environmental, food and agriculture activist throughout Europe and across the U.S.
She is an Iowa native and a mother of four who lives in Massachusetts.
Emily Oakley was born and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Before starting Three Springs Farm with her partner, Mike, Emily worked with a community gardening non-profit in Rhode Island and interned at Full Belly Farm in California. Emily received a Masters in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis. In 2003, they moved to Oklahoma to start a small-scale diverse vegetable farm. Emily is interested in agrobiodiversity and the role of women in farming. She is widely respected among organic farmers for her efforts with the NOSB. She speaks on farming issues regularly.
Emily currently serves as an Organic Producer Representative to the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board.
Anais Beddard is the second generation running Lady Moon Farms. She was born and raised on the farm in Pennsylvania. Her childhood was spent growing up with animals, helping on the farm, and spending time with family. Lady Moon is one of the oldest organic farms in the country, with a complex seasonal rotation of the crew to allow extensive cover cropping while still supplying organic vegetables year round.
A few years ago, Ana decided it was time to come home and work full-time at Lady Moon Farms as part of a succession plan. Anais currently lives and works in the three states where Lady Moon Farms operates, traveling as the seasons change.
Anais has been very active in the movement to Keep The Soil In Organic. She has spoken at several rallies and NOSB meetings. She was one of the original farmers who spearheaded the Moratorium Letter that first brought the organic community together. in opposing the certification of HYDRO. She met with AMS director Elanor Starmer and NOP director Miles McEvoy to present the widely supported letter calling for a moratorium on new hydroponic certification.
Davey Miskell is a pioneering organic farmer from Vermont. He spent years training with the best organic farmers in the US and Europe (including Eliot Coleman and Michelle LeClaire) before starting Miskell's Premium Organics. He was one of the researchers who traveled to Europe on a Working Land project that brought back much valuable information for American organic growers. Currently, he grows greens and basil in a glass greenhouse.
Davey has been instrumental in challenging the loss of integrity in the USDA National Organic Program. He was a co-founder of the Keep The Soil In Organic movement. He was a co-author of the Moratorium Letter. He has been an organizer for many farmer rallies, usually avoiding the stage so that others could speak.
Dave Chapman is also on the Standards Board. See his bio above!