Real Organic Project is being born

Dear Friend of Organic,

I just wanted to let you know that the Real Organic Project is being born. I’d like to review the past and take a look at the future of certified organic farming. If you care about organic, please forward this letter to your friends.

The Past

It has not been a good year for the National Organic Program. Since the November NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) meeting in Jacksonville failed to prohibit HYDRO, the organic community has gone through a period of questioning and searching. We are wrestling with the basic question, “Can we trust the USDA to protect organic integrity?”

Following a series of devastating articles about the NOP (National Organic Program) in the Washington Post last year, all the news from the USDA has been bad. In September, the USDA exonerated the enormous Aurora Dairy CAFO (Confinement Animal Feeding Operation) of any wrongdoing at their Colorado “farm.” This dairy operation was described in detail in one WaPo article, along with compelling test results to prove the cattle weren’t on pasture. The government approval set the stage for Aurora to build several new CAFOs that will dwarf the current 15,000-cow operation.

For the supporters of CAFO Organic: Mission Accomplished.

A certified “organic” Aurora dairy facility. Image courtesy of Cornucopia.

Then the USDA abandoned the animal welfare reforms (called OLPP) which had finally been approved under Obama. This rejection by the USDA was the result of intense lobbying from such groups as the Coalition For Sustainable Organics (in their Senate testimony), American Farm Bureau, and the National Pork Producers Council. They were championed by the ranking members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, protecting enormous “organic” egg CAFOs in their home states. The USDA thus cleared the way for CAFOs to continue receiving “organic” certification.

Once again, for CAFO meat, milk, and egg operations: Mission Accomplished.

This is a conventional CAFO. There are no pictures permitted of “organic” CAFOs, but they look the same.

Then in January, the USDA announced that “Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program began.” This was an interesting rewriting of history, but who cares about the facts?

For the soilless HYDRO growers: Mission Accomplished.

Wholesum Harvest, which insists that it is not a hydroponic producer.

Finally, the USDA recently told the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that, going forward, they will be severely limited in the scope of their work. They will not address big questions about organic integrity. They will not set their own agenda. They will limit their focus to defining what substances will be permitted in organic certification.

These outcomes (allowing hydro, setting aside animal welfare, and reducing the role of the NOSB) are exactly what Theo Crisantes of the Coalition For Sustainable Organics called for when he testified before the Senate Ag Committee last year.

Mission Accomplished.

Theo Crisantes testifying for the Coalition For Sustainable Organics to the Senate Ag Committee.

It would appear that the USDA is no longer even bothering to woo the organic community with sweet talk. They are bluntly speaking their truth, which is that “Certified Organic” means whatever they want it to mean, and to hell with the organic community. And apparently, to hell with OFPA as well. Organic is all about marketing, isn’t it?

For the many people who have spent years working hard to build the integrity of the NOP, this is a dismal moment. We have lost the helm, and the New Organic will not have much to do with the ideals of such pioneers as Albert Howard and Eve Balfour. It will have to do with money. Money will decide what is called “certified organic” and what isn’t.

And so, if we still care about those ideals, we must move on. The National Organic Program will continue to flourish. Many people will still turn to it to find safer food. Many good people will still work hard to make the NOP as honest and positive as possible. But the NOP will be controlled by politicians and lobbyists who have no belief in the mission of the organic farming movement.

Two amazing cartoons by Gary Larson show the evolution of the corporate takeover of the NOP. The first cartoon shows the beginning of seeing that it is easier to win if you look like the sheep.

So ten years ago, some CAFO farms started to “talk organic.” They discovered that a lucrative market could be exploited while still embracing the conventional model of confinement feeding of livestock.

The second Larson cartoon shows where the National Organic Program is headed in another ten years. What happens when the organic market is mostly filled with CAFO and HYDRO production? Will eaters still trust the USDA Organic Seal?

The Rallies

Last Fall we saw an unprecedented turnout from the organic community trying to reclaim the NOP. This culminated in the final Rally at Jacksonville and two days of farmer testimony.

The sad outcome was that the farmers were ignored. It turned out that many members of the NOSB really didn’t understand what organic meant. We failed to win even a simple majority in the NOSB vote to prohibit HYDRO. We faced an enormous and successful lobbying effort by the protectors of HYDRO such as OTA, CCOF, and the Coalition For Sustainable Organics. These seem to be the Champions of New Organic.

There is now a short video of the many Rallies. It’s an inspiring short watch, please give it a click to view: Facebook // YouTube

What happens now?

This winter, a growing group of farmers and eaters have formed the Real Organic Project. The Real Organic Project will work to support real organic farming.

This will involve a number of efforts, starting with the creation of a new “Add-On” label to represent the organic farming that we have always cared about. It will use USDA certification as a base, but it will have a small number of critical additional requirements. These will differentiate it from the CAFOs, HYDROs, and import cheaters that are currently USDA certified.

This group grew out of several meetings of Vermont farmers who believed that the USDA label was no longer something that could represent us. Starting a new label is not a small task, but we can no longer find an alternative. That small group of Vermonters has grown quickly into a national group. This amazing group of organic advocates has gathered to build something new. Scroll below to see who we are.

Standards Board // We now have a 15-member Standards Board (listed below), based on the model of the NOSB, but with much greater representation from the organic community. The 15 volunteers have a wealth of experience in both farming and regulation. There are 9 farmer members, as well as representatives from NGOs, stores, consumers, scientists, and certifiers.

The group includes 5 former NOSB members, as well as leading farmers and advocates from across the country. They will meet in March to set the first standards. They will continue to meet once a year after that to review and update. This first year there will be a pilot project with a small number of farms to test the certifying process and work out the details.

Advisory Board // There is also a distinguished Advisory Board that currently has 18 members, including 4 former NOSB members and 3 current NOSB members. It also includes many well known organic pioneers such as Eliot Coleman and Fred Kirschenmann.

Executive Board // And finally, there is an Executive Board of 5 people that includes one current NOSB member.

These boards will work together to reconnect and unite our community. Our intent is transformational. We will create a label that we can trust again.

Please Join Us

We can only succeed with your support. Go to to become a member. Make a donation to help make this new label into a reality. We are only supported by our sweat and your generosity. We can reclaim the meaning of the organic label together.

Join the Real Organic Project

Upcoming Events

This weekend, Feb 17 and 18, there will be a roundtable discussion both days at the NOFA VT Winter Conference. We will meet after lunch (1 to 2 PM).

  • On Saturday we will be discussing “National Organic Program: Where Are We?”
  • On Sunday at the same time we will be discussing “National Organic Program: Where Are We Going?”
  • NOFA will be showing the Many Rallies video at the lunchtime Plenary Session.

For anyone interested, I will be giving the keynote address at the NOFA CT Winter Conference on March 10. I will be discussing these issues and be giving an update on the Real Organic Project.

The Real Organic Project Standards Board

Francis Thicke runs Radiance Dairy in Iowa. It is a 236 acres grass-based dairy farm. Francis worked for the USDA-Extension Service as the National Program Leader for Soil Science. Francis has served on many boards, including a recent term on the National Organic Standards Board. He is currently the chair of the Policy Committee of the Organic Farmers Association. He has a Ph.D. in Agronomy. Francis serves as a Farmer representative.

Eric Sideman is a farmer from New Hampshire who runs a PYO berry operation with his wife. He served on the National Organic Standards Board, and is a longtime staff member for MOFGA, serving as their Organic Extension Agent giving technical support to other organic growers. He has been active in helping National Organic Coalition create policy positions. He has taught at Bates College and has a Ph.D. in Botany. Eric serves as our Scientist representative.

Clara Coleman is a second-generation organic farmer, consultant, writer, TEDx and keynote speaker on sustainable four-season farming. She began Divide Creek Farm in Colorado. She also serves on the Advisory Board of Food Tank. She currently manages Four Season Farm in Maine. Clara serves as a Farmer representative.

Jay Feldman is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. He has worked tirelessly to deal with the problems created by the use of pesticides. He served a five-year term on the National Organic Standards Board. Jay serves as an NGO representative.

Linley Dixon owns a 5-acre mixed vegetable farm in Durango, Colorado with her husband, and brother. She holds a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from the University of Florida and a Masters in Plant and Soil Science through West Virginia University’s Organic Farm Project. She held a 2-year post-doctorate with USDA’s Systematic Botany and Mycology Laboratory studying fungal plant pathogens from around the world. Her research involved assessing the impact of farm biodiversity on plant disease levels, providing perspective on the various inputs required given different production practices. She is currently the senior scientist at the Cornucopia Institute, a non-profit dedicated to promoting economic justice for family-scale farming and serves on the board of Southwest Farm Fresh, a farmer-owned distribution cooperative.

Michael Sligh is director of the Just Foods Program for Rural Advancement Foundation International. Michael has been a farmer and author and is an advisory member of the Organic Farmers Association. He is the founding chair of the National Organic Standards Board. Michael serves as an NGO representative.

Onika Abraham, Director of Farm School NYC, is a farmer and educator with more than 15 years of experience as a senior nonprofit manager and an MBA in marketing and entrepreneurship from City University of New York’s Zicklin School of Business. Onika serves as a Consumer representative.

Pete Johnson is the founder of Pete’s Greens. He is widely respected for his innovative farming. He organized the first Farmer Rally at the NOSB meeting in Stowe, Vermont. He is also an Agrarian Younger. Pete serves as a Farmer representative.

Paul Muller is a co-founder of Full Belly Farm, a 400-acre pioneering farm in the Capy Valley of California. Paul and his partners have been active in the organic community since they began the farm in 1985. They are founding members of Organic Farmers Association and Agrarian Elders. They are widely respected for all they have done to promote organic farming. Every year they host the wildly popular Hoes Down Festival, which included a Rally to Protect Organic in 2017. Paul serves as a Farmer representative.

Jennifer Taylor and her partner run Lola’s Organic Farm on 32 acres of land once owned by her grandmother, a sharecropper who saved money and purchased the farm she once worked. Taylor and Gilmore re-established the farm after it had been abandoned, converted to organic, and named it in honor of Taylor’s grandmother, Lola. Jennifer served a five-year term on the NOSB. She is a current Board member of the Organic Farmers Association. Jennifer serves as a Farmer representative.

Jim Gerritsen is co-owner of Wood Prarie Family Farm in Maine. Jim has been a longtime champion of organic farming, leading a lawsuit against Monsanto and co-founding Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association. He serves on Cornucopia’s Board of Policy Advisors. He has been a powerful advocate for organic integrity. Wood Prarie Family Farm has been certified with MOFGA for 38 years. He is an Agrarian Elder. Jim serves as a Farmer representative.

Anne Lazor runs Butterworks Farm with her partner. Known as the first certified organic dairy in Vermont, Butterworks started nearly four decades ago with only a handful of Jersey cows in 1979. Anne and Jack have shared their understanding of organic farming with many beginning farmers. Anne serves as a Farmer representative.

Alan Lewis is director of government affairs and food and agriculture policy for Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, a 60-year-old health food chain operating more than 90 stores in 15 states. He is active in many trade organizations and grassroots groups and sits on the Boulder County Food and Agriculture Policy Council. Alan serves as a Store representative.

Nicole Dehne is the Certification Director of Vermont Organic Farmers. Nicole has led VOF to a position of national respect as USDA certifiers, building on their pioneering work previous to OFPA. A winding road brought Nicole from teaching 3rd grade in Guatemala to placing high school students on farms with Vermont Farm Youth Core to working for the certification program at NOFA Vermont. She serves in the Certifier position.

Dave Chapman runs Long Wind Farm in Vermont. He is a founding member of the Vermont Organic Farmers. He has been active in the movement to Keep The Soil In Organic. He is proud to be a current member of the Policy Committee of the Organic Farmers Association. He served on the USDA Hydroponic Task Force. He serves in a Farmer position.

The Real Organic Project Advisory Board

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.

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, ThemeGardens, 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 authors articles, op-eds, and peer-reviewed papers, and has written seven books including four national bestsellers: Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution (Little Brown, September 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.

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.

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 US 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.”

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.

Will Raap is the founder and chair of Gardener’s Supply. He is also co-founder and co-chair of the Board of Directors of the New Economics Institute, an organization of creative thinkers working to develop a fair, sustainable new economy that functions within ecological limits and considers the world’s diverse people and cultures.

Will founded and was past chairman of the Intervale Center, a non-profit organization also located in Burlington, Vermont. Since 1987, the Intervale Center has been developing farm- and land-based enterprises that generate economic and social opportunity while protecting natural resources. The Intervale Center currently supports the Intervale Conservation Nursery, Intervale Agricultural Consulting Services and the Intervale Food Hub, plus 12 small, privately owned farms that participate in the Center’s nationally acclaimed farm incubator program.

Walter Jehne (the one kicking!) is an internationally recognized climate scientist, soil microbiologist, and innovation strategist. He has immense field and research experience in forests, grasslands, agriculture and soils at national (CSIRO) and international (UN) level. For the other half of his decades, Walter has worked more broadly beyond science, at federal level, leading transformation in industry. This diversity of experience has given Walter a unique and exceptional capacity to devise solutions — he makes challenges opportunities. Walter has a remarkable ability to explain complex science and economic paths forward in easy to understand ways. This year he was part of an invitation-only UN FAO conference in Paris looking at bringing soil into the next IPCC report. Walter’s primary scientific focus is soil biology. He is a co-founder of Healthy Soils Australia

Walter has become a strong champion around the world for healthy soil. His workshops on the Soil Carbon Sponge are immensely powerful.

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.

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 National Organic Standards 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.

“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 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.

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).

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 (

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).

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).

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. He served as Chair of the National Organic Standards Board.

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.

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 National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production, operated by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

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.

Fred also has 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. In 2014, Fred received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM).

Real Organic Project 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 (See Standards Board bio above).