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Organic Focus Organic Council of Ontario Newsletter Spring 2012

Volume 6, Issue 1

Organic Council of Ontario Activities In this issue: Organic Council of Ontario Activities


OCO Round-Up


Of Note…


Industry News




Upcoming Events




Regulatory Affairs Update

Producer Corner Market & Consumer Trends




Get Engaged!


Board of Directors


Greetings, members and friends! The Organic Council of Ontario has completed a year of intense productivity and activity. We are thankful for the opportunity to have undertaken a Transfer Payment Agreement from OMAFRA to support the development of the organic sector over the past 18 months. Our final report will be submitted at the end of June to Hugh Berges at OMAFRA, and will be available for members to download on our website. We would like to thank our partners in completing the workload: Ash Street Organics, Canadian Organic Growers, Canada Organic Trade Association, Farm Markets Ontario, Farm Fresh Marketing Association, and Theresa Schumilas. Theresa is the research director for our New Directions project to develop a longterm strategy for collecting data and information relevant to planning and growing our sector. OCO launched our new Co-Farmer Campaign this spring at our AGM (page 3), with the public launch at the Green Living Show at Toronto’s Direct Energy Centre (page 4) in April. Our first Co-Farmer to sign on, Barry Martin of the communications firm Hypenotic, met with OCO staff late spring to clarify OCO’s vision in language that resonates with consumers and supporters. OCO interns and staff are developing a complete campaign strategy and look forward to YOUR involvement in making our Co-Farmer Campaign a success! OCO Board members and staff have been active this spring representing you and your interests at the provincial and federal levels. OCO staff met with Foodland Ontario’s Denise Zaborowski and Sandra Jones to discuss promoting the new Foodland Ontario Organic brand. Chicken Farmers of Ontario have hired a consultant to develop a Specialty Chicken

Strategy- producers and processors with a stake or interest in organic chicken production can contact me at the office before JUNE 30th to arrange input. OCO staff and members were invited to attend the Environment Commissioner of Ontario’s Soil Summit to discuss soil carbon and credit/ trading systems. We participated in the Minister’s Market Day at Queen’s Park, sampling local organic foods from our Roadshow sponsors Fieldgate Organics, Yorkshire Valley Farms, and Organic Meadow. OCO Board and staff attended the Organic Value Chain Round Table meetings (page 6) and I was officially invited to join the Round Table as a participant rather than as an observer. USC Canada met with OCO staff to discuss a Commercial Organic Seed Strategy for Canada. Members with an interest in seed supply (or supplying seed!) can contact me at the office before August 1st to have input. Board Chair Matt LeBeau joined the prestigious Presidents’ Council this spring, attending his first meeting in April. Matt is championing the need for a provincial regulation for “organic” with his colleagues at this table, and creating new relationships with general farm organizations, commodity groups and agricultural leaders through his participation. This summer and autumn our focus is on the sustainability of our organization to continue to provide the supports you as members have come to expect from your voice on organics!

Jodi Koberinski, OCO Executive Director

Organic Focus

Spring 2012

OCO Round-Up

Organic Council of Ontario’s 6th Annual General Meeting We had a full house with members from across the value chain at our 6th AGM in March 2012. It was a great day, full of inspiring conversation. It was exciting to see so many farmers there and to hear a keynote address from Dr. John Ikerd an agricultural economist from the University of Missouri. Dr. Ikerd talked about sustaining the integrity of organics through strong relationships and vertical cooperation. We had a short business meeting followed by an update from the Organic Federation of Canada from OFC Chair Ted Zettel. After a tasty organic lunch we had a great panel discussion about trends in organic and how they relate to business with Tom Manley (Homestead Organics, Eco Farm Day), Dr. Ralph Martin (Sustainability Chair, University of Guelph), Alvaro Venturelli (CSA farmer, NFU), and Maureen Kirkpatrick (The Big Carrot) - Retail Association Representative. Our full day was rounded out by a engaging Social Media Workshop with Barry Martin of Hypenotic Inc. 2012 Board of Directors Election:   

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Matt LeBeau (Chair) - Marketing Representative LeBeau Advance Jenn Pfenning (Vice Chair) - Producer Representative Pfennings Organic Farm Maureen Kirkpatrick (Secretary) - Direct to Consumer (Retail & Restaurants) Representative The Big Carrot Bernd Licht (Treasurer) - Distributor Representative Puresource Inc. Tom Manley Processing Representative Homestead Organics Ted Zettel Regulatory Affairs Organic Meadow Cooperative Simon Jacques Certifier Representative Eco-Cert ltd. Shauna Bloom - Association Representative Ecological Farmers of Ontario Gilbert Arnold - Ex-Officio Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada


OCO’s 2012 Spring Activities JANUARY Meeting with OVCRT Chair Gunta Vitins and consultant JP LeCroix regarding the Canada Organic Brand Strategy and our upcoming workshop at Guelph Organic Conference. Meeting with Jeffrey Smith, author and GMO activist from the US Centre for responsible Technology, and OCO members concerned about GMO alfalfa to discuss campaigns on both sides of the border. Sustain Ontario Meat Working Group on regulation/processing London Food and Wine Show: 800 sq ft pavilion as part of the Organic Roadshow, raised profile of organics with new audience. Guelph Organic Conference: Hosted trade symposium, gathered feedback on creatives for Canada Organic Brand Strategy for OVCRT; hosted Youth Forum with over 50 people in attendance. Ontario Organic Awards: 2nd Annual Ontario Organic Awards and dinner, over 120 in attendance. FEBRUARY Meeting with OMAFRA re: Traceability Foundations Initiative funding. Foodland Ontario Round Table meeting, OMAFRA updates on media plan for 2012; the Ontario Table newsletter. Bring Food Home Conference Planning meeting. Canadian Organic Growers Perth Waterloo Wellington AGM. Canadian Organic Growers Conference, Toronto participated in booth displays, shared information about OCO and our membership with consumers and trade members. Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference. Meeting with Ann Slater of the National Farmers Union. Meeting with Evergreen Foundation regarding partnership opportunities in 2012, Toronto. Sustain Ontario Meeting; included meeting with policy staff from Minister McMeekin’s office about the Local Food Act. Eco Farm Day, Cornwall: OCO hosted a half day Meet and Greet event, featuring key note Randy Whitteker of ONFC, and an industry panel to provide guidance on selling along the value chain. MARCH Hosted Sustainability Round Table conversation: With John Ikerd hosted at OMAFRA by OCO. Guests included leadership from the general farm organizations, OMAFRA and the Minister’s staff, and Organic Federation of Canada. OCO Annual General Meeting: Featuring keynote speaker John Ikerd, Agricultural Economist, social media workshop with Barry Martin, and a panel conversation on the future of Ontario organics. Grower Symposium: hosted by Ruth Knight. OCO delivered a sector update to the farmers in attendance. Meeting at OMAFRA with Aileen McNeil and Hugh Burges, business development branch, and Matt LeBeau to deliver Transfer Payment Agreements results. Meeting at the Ontario Agricultural College, University of Guelph with Dr. Ralph Martin and a researcher to explore options for organic mung bean variety development; assisted team with finding mature organic farms to grow genetics in 2012.

Volume 6 Issue 1

OCO Round-Up


Launch of the Co-Farmer Consumer Membership Program The Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) has officially launched the Co-Farmer consumer membership level! The purpose of the Co-Farmer membership is twofold: 1. Membership fees generated through Co-farmer memberships will provide critical funding required to keep OCO operating over the long-term. 2. Reignite a local organic movement by building a community of individuals that includes those who support organic agriculture and those who practice it. Over the course of the year, OCO will be attending a number of events and partnering with retailers and NGO’s to help spread the word of their Co-farmer membership opportunities.

OCO needs your help spreading the word of the Cofarmer membership. How you can help: • Link your website to their Co-farmer webpages • Include information about Co-farmer membership in your consumer newsletters • Ask OCO for brochures and posters that you can display and distribute to your customers For full details on the Co-farmer membership, please visit: If you’re interested in learning more about the Co-farmer membership and would like printed materials to help OCO spread the word, please contact Elizabeth Stewart directly:

Organic Council Member Forum OCO has developed a member forum on their website: Every OCO member is encouraged to visit the forum, post comments, start discussions, ask questions and respond to other’s questions. OCO would like all members to be connected directly to each other, and this forum is a great platform to start developing those connections.

Spring Activities Continued Environment Commissioner of Ontario’s Soil Round Table meeting About 50 stakeholders from agriculture and conservation authorities met to discuss options for carbon sequestration and valuation of Environmental Goods and Services provided through soil management. APRIL Meeting with USC at OCO offices to discuss commercial organic seed development project. Organic Value Chain Round Table strategic planning working group meeting. Meeting with Hypenotic’s Barry Martin to develop co-farmer campaign Sustain Ontario video series launch event at OMAFRA with Minister McMeekin. Sustain Ontario Meat working group meetings on supply management, abattoirs, and resources and supports. Green Living Show: Final stop in the Ontario Organic Roadshow, 2000 sq ft pavilion with 14 organic businesses/ organizations represented, an 8’x8’ video screen featuring our handimations and Powerline videos, workshops and sampling. See more at

OCO’s Organic Sector Survey Are you part of the processes (from field to fork) of getting organic food on Ontario plates? OCO request your help to better understand sector needs, interests, and to measure changes in the sector. We are asking organic growers, processors, distributors, retailers and others in the sector to spare a few minutes for this survey. Survey: This information will help farms, business owners and other organizations engaged in the organic sector to better position, manage, change or expand. If you have any questions contact Theresa at Organic Council of Ontario commissioned Informa Market Research to conduct this survey.

Organic Focus

Spring 2012

OCO Round-Up


OCO Showcasing Organic fare at Green Living Show The Organic Council of Ontario hosted a 2,000 square foot pavilion to showcase Ontario’s organic bounty. We hosted 17 vendors who sampled product to consumers and provided important information about their businesses and about organic. These included local retailers, certifiers, processors, distributors, and not-for-profits. In addition to a marche -style pavilion selling organic food from premier Ontario businesses, we are offered a workshop stage within our footprint, circus performers promoting organics, and a variety of videos about detailing different aspects of organic production. Workshops by:  Learn Eat Grow – Kids introduction to organic.  Joy McCarthy (Holistic Nutritionist) – Demystifying Labels, 3 R’s of Organic.  Lucy Sharratt (CBAN) – Intro to GMO’s  Jacob Pries and Jodi Koberinski (OCO) – How Organic Can Feed the World, Demystifying Labels.  Panel Discussion (with Devin Smith, Lucy Sharratt, Simon Jacques) - Why We Choose Organic

Participating Vendors: Ontario Natural Food Co-op, Yorkshire Valley, Neal Brothers, Shasha’s, Pro-cert, Ecocert, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Front Door Organics, Fieldgate Organics, Kiju Organic Juice, Sunshine Pickles, Peppersoft Inc., The Big Carrot/Non-GMO Project, Feast of Fields, Sprouts for Life, Southbrook Vineyards, and Filsingers Organic.

Highlights from the weekend: ● Multiple stilt walkers to draw folks into workshops and into the centre of pavilion. ● Hundreds of students watched the ‘what is organic’ video ● Constant loop of videos provided information to many folks ● A dozen workshops about different aspects of organic to answer many consumers’ frequent questions ● Videographer took footage of Sunday, including interviews. ● Many new COfarmers signed up, including Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario ● Over 2 Dozen committed volunteers helped over the weekend

2011 Organic Roadshow numbers:  17 Festivals and Events.  5000km traveled.  Over 25,000 views of our logos and banners.  Over 15000 organic samples given to consumers.  Hundreds of conversations.  Thousands of views of OCO videos/slideshow.  Hundreds of consumer emails gathered.

2011 Communications Update Traditional Media: 23 news articles in local newspapers or magazines. Social Media Video Views: What is Organic Farming: 1950 Views Sharing the Harvest: 512 Views Why I am an Organic Farmer: 540 Views Organic Food Production in Ontario: 345 Views Local and Organic are different: 14 Views Stop GE Alfalfa (with CBAN): 9182 Views!! Sean McGivern discusses Enviro Pig: 1227 Views Roger Rivest discusses GE Alfalfa: 467 Views Total Video Views: 14237 New Initiatives: New OCO banner Infograph of Organic Agriculture in Ontario ‘Organic Cards’ point of purchase cards OCO Activities and Accomplishments Timeline

Of Note….

Volume 6 Issue 1


Food and Nutrition Strategy for Ontario A group of organizations has come together to develop a Food and Nutrition Strategy for Ontario (for more background about the strategy so far see visit the strategy page: Through this Strategy we aim to set common goals and directions for the food system, and to coordinate our efforts so that we are all working together towards a food system that is good for food providers, eaters, and the province as a whole. We will also be using the recommendations created through this strategy to contribute to the Local Food Act and Childhood Obesity Strategy that the government is currently developing. Our goal is to create a strategy to provide government, funders, and all of those working on the ground with common directions and with processes that will be useful in the long-term. The partners that have been working on the strategy have created a draft of the strategy, sought feedback and will be releasing the revised Strategy in June 2012 for review.

OCO On The Road The Organic Council of Ontario will be at the Pollinator’s Festival June 16 th at the Brickworks. (insert website and contact information). OCO will be promoting our Co-Farmer Campaign, talking about the importance of organic agriculture to maintaining pollinator populations, and making new friends. June 24 th OCO will be participating in the Guelph Wellington Local Food event at Ignatius Farm. Labour Day weekend, OCO will be participating again in this year’s Harvest Picnic. Organic producers and suppliers in the Hamilton area who wish to participate with us in what will be a fundraising food vending event please contact Jodi at the OCO office. We are seeking donations of product to prepare and sell, as well as Organic Ambassadors to cook, sell, and spread the good word about organic. Headliners at this year’s event include Daniel Lanois with Brian Blade, Emmy Lou Harris and more.

Organic Week 2012 Our third annual national Organic Week is scheduled for September 22-29.The date was moved to what we hope is its final destination to coincide with harvest season for more producers and the CHFA East show. OCO will be hosting a Roadshow event at the Organic Garage September 29th. OCO members interested in participating in this Organic Week event (or in collaborating on other events) please contact Jodi at the office 519 827 1221 subject “O Week”. Our O-Week focus will be on promoting our Co-Farmer Campaign through retail, CSA, farmers’ markets and distributor channels. OCO will be running a CoFarmer member drive during September with a focus on O-Week. We will be challenging our existing members to find 5 friends, family, or colleagues to join OCO as a Co-Farmer. If a third of our members take up the challenge, we could raise between $10,000 and $15,000 for our core funding- 10% of our campaign goal!

Comments Requested on Pathways for Licensing Natural Health Products In a critical development towards appropriate evaluation and licensing of NHPs, the Natural Health Products Directorate has just released two draft Standards of Evidence (SOE) Guidance Documents with a 90 day comment period. (ending August 8). The two documents are: Draft: Pathway for Licensing Natural Health Products used as Traditional Medicines Draft: Pathway for Licensing Natural Health Products Making Modern Health Claims To view Health Canada’s posting of these documents; please visit their What’s New webpage. CHFA has played a substantial role in reviewing preliminary versions of the documents and getting them to this stage, and can confirm that NHPD is prepared to work with CHFA and other stakeholders to ensure as much clarity and certainty as possible. We strongly encourage comments and input from all members, and will include any feedback in the planned discussions with the SOE Working Group and RAAC. CHFA is committed to ensuring member input is reflected in any response to NHPD. Comments can be forwarded to Sonia Salyk,

Help Canadian Organic Growers reach our goal! The Canadian Organic Growers is Canada's oldest organic organization (started in 1975) and we've been leading the organic movement ever since. Times have changed and funding grants are at all time lows (for other environmental groups too)–we must now raise $65,000 to get us through this crunch. Every dollar counts and is appreciated. COG has now passed the $320,000 mark, which is 49% of the way to our goal–thank you to our many donors! Please help us keep up the momentum, like us on Facebook, tweet about us, and share with your friends and family. If you love organics and believe in a healthy, green future– please donate today! Call our office: 1-888-375-7383 or mail donations to: 39 McArthur Avenue, Ottawa, ON, K1L 8L7 Make a donation online here

Organic Focus

Spring 2012

Industry News


Sustaining Agriculture: All Parties at the Table In March, OCO hosted a ground-breaking meeting with leaders from Ontario Federation of Agriculture, Grain Farmers of Ontario, Christian Farmers' Federation of Ontario, National Farmers' Union, Organic Federation of Canada, Foodland, OMAFRA, and the Minister's Office. Professor Emeritus John Ikerd, Agricultural Economist, was our guest. Professor Ikerd shared his perspective on sustainability and how his views have evolved over his career from a focus on neo-liberal, pro-monocultural economics to a focus on diversity, resilience, and cooperation as economic drivers: "I don't know if organic is sustainableit takes a hundred years to see if actions are sustainable, and none of us will be here to see it. What I do know is what we've been doing is NOT sustainable. I encourage policies that support investing in more than one solution. We keep investing almost exclusively in the model we know doesn't work". - Professor Emeritus John Ikerd

Professor Ikerd recommended increased financial support for organic management- both research and social investments. He also spoke about "vertical co-operation", a valuechain approach to food systems that includes the consumer in the decision making and treats consumers as partners in the business. OCO was invited by the broader agricultural leadership at this meeting to find ways to talk about John's ideas and other ideas about sustainable food production in a way that can be heard by the general farm community, and in a way that allows those farmers to see themselves in feeding the future. The group was enthusiastic about continuing to meet to discuss these ideas and strategies further, investing in the long term policy direction of the province’s agricultural sector. One more way OCO is supporting farmers!

Organic Value Chain Round Table - Meetings, May 2-4, 2012, Ottawa Jodi Koberinski, Executive Director of OCO attended as ‘member-at-large’ the OVCRT meetings. The Organic Value Chain Round Table meetings took place in Ottawa May 7-8. The Marketing Working Group got approval to test the campaign concept “Think Before You Eat”. OCO members and staff took a leadership role in developing the Canada Organic Brand Strategy and tested the concept at the recent ONFC Table Top event. The OVCRT also achieved ground-breaking approval to release the GMO Risk Mitigation Study after many months of delay. OVCRT members are developing a communications strategy to manage the reactions to the specific calls to action outlined in the report prior to its release. We were able to complete our strategic planning exercise to ensure all working groups and the OVCRT broadly are working synergistically and with a clear direction for our work.

The Number of Certified Organic Farms Continue to Grow The number of certified organic operations increased 4.4% in Canada since 2006, and 66.5% since 2001, to 3,713 operations in 2011. According to Statistics Canada latest agricultural census, certified organic operations represented 1.8% of all farms in Canada, compared to 1.5% in 2006, and 0.9% in 2001. Ontario had some of the greatest gains, growing by 81 farms, between 2006 and 2011. Saskatchewan had the highest number of certified organic operations at 1,015 despite a 14.1% decrease since 2006.

# of Organic Operations, Canada, 2001 to 2011 Total certified Certified Transitional Certified organic Census of and/or organic organic as a percent of transitional Agriculture operations operations total operations operations* 2011 4,120 3,713 543 1.8 2006 3,898 3,555 640 1.5 0.9 2001 .. 2,230 ..

The number of farms in Canada fell 10.3 per cent from 2006 to 2011. The census shows there were 205,730 farms last year, down by 23,643 over five years.

Five facts from StatsCan’s latest study: For the first time, people 55 and over represented the largest share of total operators, accounting for 48.3 per cent in 2011. Farm operators under 35 represented 8.2 per cent of the total in 2011, a decrease from 9.1 per cent in 2006 and less than half the proportion of 19.9 per cent two decades earlier. In 2011, 4.7 per cent of Canadian farms, or a total of 9,602, reported $1 million or more in gross farm receipts, a 31.2% increase from 2006. In 2010, 46.9 per cent of operators worked off the farm, down from 48.4 per cent in 2005. Just over one-third, or 34.0 per cent, of farms reported using paid labour. Statistics Canada - Census 2011 – Farm data

Volume 6 Issue 1

Industry News


Ontario Organic Awards Celebrate Sector Innovation and Commitment Over 120 Farmers, consumers, businesses and individuals from across the organic value chain gathered in Guelph on January 27 th 2012 to celebrate excellence in Ontario’s organic sector. The Organic Council of Ontario hosted this second annual event to celebrate the commitment of the sector and the care that is put into each operation.

Southbrook Vineyards exemplifies the sector’s commitment to innovation in order to provide products to consumers that reflect their values and was therefore given the innovation award. Southbrook is organic, biodynamic, and LFP certified and are using innovative techniques to ensure their whole production methodology meets organic principles.

Thirteen individuals and businesses received awards, highlighting outstanding achievement across the value chain and their dedication to provide consumers with the best quality food while protecting Ontario’s ecological heritage.

The organic sector is made up of thousands of volunteers and it is therefore difficult to single out one individual. This year the volunteer award was given to organic dairy farmer Peter Dowling of Howe Island Farms. Peter's volunteer work has been on behalf of the National Farmers Union at the local, provincial and national level.

Gillian Flies and Brent Preston of The New Farm were acknowledged as outstanding horticultural producers. The familyrun farm has partnered with The Stop Community Food Centre, in Toronto’s west-end, to create a unique program that supports sustainable local farming and provides fresh, healthy, organic food to people in need in the Toronto area. Grant Martin and family of Sunholm Farms are recognized as the outstanding dairy producer. They produce milk for Harmony Organics and are constantly improving production techniques.

Julie Daniluk’s enthusiasm, commitment and depth of knowledge make her an invaluable ambassador for Organics and a very worthy recipient of the Education Award. Julie has been a passionate voice for the organic sector for almost two decades and the foundation of her message is the connection between health and organic food. Two lifetime achievement awards were given out at the ceremony to Cathleen Kneen and Hugh Martin.

Golden Acres Farms, Robert Fleishauer and Family, outstanding livestock /grain producer, are a great example of how an organic farm can be prosperous and successful.

Cathleen Kneen’s contribution to organics started many decades ago as a farmer on the east coast with her husband, Brewster. Her mentorship of community food activists across the country has created a generation of folks dedicated to including ShaSha Bread Co. is an artisan bakery and is recognized as out- farmers and food producers in the food security conversation. She standing processor. The constant innovation of the sourdough has championed organic production as an integral part of both baking methods and sprouting techniques set this recipient apart. emergency food and long term sustainability. Everdale’s Harvest Share CSA is recognized for their outstanding direct farm marketing/CSA for their dedication to farmers markets as well as innovation in their CSA program. In operation since 1998 their CSA program in Hillsburgh currently feeds over 350 families. They support other local organic farmers by carrying their food in their CSA. Farmer interns play key roles in the CSA and many former interns have gone on to establish their own CSA farms using the model.

Hugh Martin has contributed greatly to the growth of the organic movement, over many years, without a great deal of recognition. Hugh spent 34 years with OMAFRA, many of those years as the Organic Lead. Hugh was the first, and for a long time, the only person within OMAFRA to return our calls and take an interest organic. We owe him a great debt of gratitude and recognition that is long overdue. Together, we recognize Hugh Martin for a lifetime of achievement in serving the organic food movement.

The outstanding retailer award was given to The Big Carrot, a 70 member worker owned co-op in Toronto- for their 28 years of leadership and service to the sector. The Big Carrot is the first retailer in the province to certify to the Canadian Organic Standard and is a founding member of the NON-GMO Project.

So many great individuals and businesses were recognized this year for their hard work and dedication to the sector. We share a deep gratitude for all that they do and for the countless others who are yet unrecognized.

Pfennings Organic Farm is an exceptional example of how the organic value-chain can ensure everyone is getting their fair share and is therefore recognized as the outstanding supplier. As third generation organic farmers, the Pfennings continue to develop the supply chain to address food as an important part of social change. The Outstanding Marketing Campaign is Organic Meadow's ‘Clean Living’ video. This original music video shares the story of Organic farmers and their dedication to the animals, the land, the environment and our future. The video can be seen at

We will be hosting the third annual Ontario Organic Awards in January 2013 and would love for you to nominate your favourite individual, business or group. Please check out our website for full details about the awards and about how the Organic Council is working to put more organics on Ontario plates! Full award recipient details are available at Photos can be viewed on our webpage or facebook and were taken by

Organic Focus

Spring 2012

Member Profiles


Member Profiles:

Dancey Family Farm From the OCO Membership Desk: Hello OCO Members!

Chris & Wil Dancey grow Certified Organic Specialty Vegetables, grain, and soybean crops, as well as edamame soybeans and heirloom tomatoes.

We have officially launched our Co-farmer consumer membership level! The purpose of the Co-farmer membership is twofold: membership fees generated through Co-farmer memberships will provide critical funding required to keep OCO operating over the long-term. Second, we hope to reignite a local organic movement by building a community of individuals from those who buy local organic to those who produce it. Over the course of the year, OCO will be attending a number of events and partnering with retailers and NGO’s to help spread the word of their Co-farmer membership opportunities.

Their farm is located near Almyer, Ontario. They transitioned to organic about 12 years ago and their family has farmed in this area since 1830.

We warmly welcome Elizabeth Stewart to the OCO staff team as the Co-Farmer Coordinator. Elizabeth is a registered Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for organic food and has a background in marketing and sales including natural food and health products at Pursource Inc. Connect with Elizabeth via email:

Chris and Wil also have a keen interest in natural building. Over the past decade they have been building their sustainable home in Aylmer, Ontario, which is featured in the video:

We are also continuing to seek membership from businesses and farms across Ontario. We have also recently added Johnny Camara to our team as our Industry Membership Coordinator. Johnny has a background in sales and marketing, working with supply chains, manufactures, and distributors. He has volunteer with OCO consistently over the past few years and brings a strong skill set to our office. You can look forward to hearing from him regarding industry membership. To reach Johnny please email: Remember – We always love to hear from you! Please contact us if you have any questions, news or want to chat about Organics. We’re here for you!

They sell their produce to small restaurants, caterers, at farm gate, and farmers’ markets. You can check out their offerings at the Horton Farmers' Market in St. Thomas, ON on Saturday mornings.

Photos of their wonderful natural home have been posted on the Natural Building Network site which you can see here http://

Interested in having your business in our Member Profile section? Please send a description of you and your business that you wish to have published along with a picture or two to:

New Members/ Renewed Members New: CAHN-Pro, Wilbur Ellis,18 Co-Farmers Renewed: Puresource, Steffanie Scott, Garden Party, Poechman Family Farm, BCI Marketing, Local Food Plus, Fertile Ground CSA, Pfennings Farm, Frog Pond Farm, Dancey Farm, Jervic Farm, Mattea-s Meadows, City of Sarnia, Plan B Organics, Theodore Shelegy, Canadian Organic Growers, Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, Matthew and Janice Dick, De Boer Poultry Farms, Meeting Place Farm, Fenwood Farm, Feast of Fields, The Big Carrot, Puresource Inc., Ecological Farmers of Ontario, Dameya Holsteins, Dunkeld Jersey Farms, Sweet Meadow Farm, The New Farm, Harmony Whole Foods Market, CIPM Inc.

Volume 6 Issue 1

Upcoming Events

Weed Management for Small to Mid Scale Organic Vegetable Production Knowing how to control weeds is one of the most important skills needed for successful organic vegetable production. Organic vegetable farming requires a diverse and very proactive approach to weed control. You can avoid the constant scramble to save crops from weeds by understanding important concepts and techniques in weed control and by having a plan in place before you put the crop in the ground. Topics to be covered include weed identification, timing and mulching, tools and equipment, soil management and cover cropping for weed control, and more! When: June 9th, 2012, 9:15am to 4:00pm Where: Cedar Down Farm, 222145 Concession14 RR#1, Neustadt. Cost: $95 +HST per person or $170 + HST for a team of two To register: Click Here Introduction to Pastured Poultry Join us for this very popular workshop offered by Tarrah Young from Green Being Farm. Tarrah, who raises chickens and turkeys on pasture, will explain her system from day-old chicks and poults to the finished product. Topics to be covered include brooder design, feed requirements, bird health, marketing, and calculating sale prices based on the cost of production. When: Sunday July 8, 9:30am – 4:30 Where: Green Being Farm, Neustadt. Cost: $95 +HST per person or $170 + HST for a team of two To register: Click Here. Introduction to Pastured Pigs Join Tarrah Young of Green Being Farm as she shares lessons from her own experiences raising heritage pigs on pasture, as well as innovative and valuable information gleaned from research abroad. Topics to be covered include feeding and grazing options, natural health care, farrowing, breed selection, processing, marketing and economics. When: Sunday July 22, 2012, 9:30am – 4:30pm Where: Green Being Farm, Neustadt. Cost: $95 +HST per person or $170 + HST for a team of 2 To register: Click Here. EFO Summer Tour To Rodale And Several Farms In Pennsylvannia On July 19-21, 2012, join us on a summer bus trip to Rodale (3 full days/2 nights). We will participate in the Rodale Institute Annual Field Day where speakers will present research information and a tour of their research farm. We will also visit include several farm stops in New York and Pennsylvannia including Eric and Anne Nordell’s vegetable farm (at Trout Run, Pa) and Steve Groff’s Farm ( at Lancaster, Pa) to discuss cover crops and his crop management systems. We also hope to visit a large cash crop farm in New York. Cost is $175 for members ($220 for non-members) plus meals and accommodation. Watch the Ecological Farming ENews (on your email or call the office 519-822-8606) for more details. Call the EFO office to register, registration deadline June 15th, 2012.


Fruit & Veg Organic XPO Date: July 12 -14, 2012 Location: St. Williams, Ontario This year the Canada’s Fruit & Veg Tech X-Change will feature an organic category to educate both organic and non-organic producers on the size and scope of the sector, and the exceptional products and services offered to support on-farm organic activities. The Organic Council of Ontario (OCO) and National Farmers Union (NFU) are supporting partners for the event and will be onsite to provide guidance to both existing and new organic producers. Willsie Equipment will provide live demonstrations of their organic tillers and Underhill Farm Supply will exhibit a plot of radish root to showcase the application of natural soil aeration and organic matter regeneration. A “Meet the Buyers - Broker Brunch” will take place on opening day, with a chance to meet organic buyers such as Whole Foods Market. Immediately following, the Organic Council of Ontario will be holding an informal seminar on farm transition to certified organic. For more information please visit the website Permaculture Design Course Date: July 22 - August 4, Caledon The Permaculture Design Course is a 13 day (72 hour minimum) intensive program combining theory and practical activities. Through lectures, discussions, slide shows, field trips, and hands-on learning, participants learn the basic permaculture design principles and develop the skills to design and implement sustainable systems. There will be a wide variety of topics covered by Gregoire Lamoureux (experienced permaculture instructor) and invited guest teachers, tours to local sites, and opportunities for hands on learning as well as practice of the design principles. Cost: $988 early registration by June 10 for the 13 days. This includes field trips, access to onsite facilities, and a course manual. ($1088 after June 10) Additional Costs: $390 for 3 delicious, organic, home-cooked meals per day. $140 for a campsite and outdoor facilities OR $210 for trailer accommodation and outdoor facilities OR $420 for a room in Greenhaven and indoor facilities (if available) OR ask about commuter rates if living or staying nearby. For more information or to register please contact Brenda Dolling at 519-942-4010 or email Feast of Fields September 9, 2012 at Cold Creek Conservation Area The annual outdoor food event hosted by Organic Advocates brings together farmers, chefs, and the public to raise awareness of organics. A number of celebrity chefs will be attending this year including Michael Smith, Emerie Brine, Ted Reader and more! Cost: Early Bird Tickets $75.00 For more information or to purchase tickets please call 905.859.3609 or email

Have an upcoming event? OCO can help promote your events and exhibitions in our Newsletter and our online events page/calendar. It’s easy. Simply send the details to

Organic Focus

Spring 2012



Highlights from OMAFRA’s ON Organic Newsletter Full newsletters are posted on the OMAFRA website at:

Funding Opportunities Agricultural Management Institute (AMI) Event and Speaker Funding The AMI currently has funding for speakers and events related to farm business management. Registered organizations, associations, and groups located in Ontario can apply for up to $5000. For more information on the funding program and to download an application form, please visit the AMI website at Ontario Co-Operative Education Tax Credit The Co-operative Education Tax Credit (CETC) is a refundable tax credit available to employers who hire students enrolled in a recognized Ontario university or college co-operative education program. An eligible employer may claim a refundable tax credit for each qualifying work placement ending in the taxation year. The CETC reimburses employers 25 per cent of eligible expenditures. Smaller businesses are eligible for a higher credit rate of 30 per cent. The maximum credit for each qualifying work placement is $3,000. Most work placements are for a minimum employment period of 10 weeks up to a maximum of four months. Eligible expenditures made by a business in respect of a qualifying work placement are: Salaries and wages including taxable benefits paid or payable to the student in respect of the qualifying work placement at an Ontario permanent establishment (place of business). Fees paid or payable to an employment agency in respect of the qualifying work placement for the services of a student carried out primarily at an Ontario place of business. Eligible employers must: Have a permanent establishment located in Ontario, and be subject to Ontario income tax, and incur eligible expenditures associated with hiring co-op students enrolled in an Ontario university or college. For more information on the program please visit the OMAFRA website at -credit.htm or the Ministry of Finance website at

New Publications OMAFRA Publications—The following paid publication is available from Guide to Fruit Production, 2012-2013, Publication 360 [new title for Pub 360]; the cost is $20.00; The following free OMAFRA Factsheets are now available from 11-057: Rooftop Solar Installations on Rural Buildings, Agdex 768; New. 12-007: Hazelnuts in Ontario – Biology and Potential Varieties, Agdex 240; New 12-009: Hazelnuts in Ontario – Pests, Agdex 240; New 12-011: Hazelnuts in Ontario – Growing, Harvesting and Food Safety, Agdex 240; New. 12-013: Water Efficiency and Conservation Practices for Irrigation, Agdex 753/650; New. 12-015: Managing the Lygus Bug in Greenhouse Crops, Agdex 290/621; New. Other Publications NEW! Purdue Cover Crop Guide – This guide is an infield reference booklet and contains management information on many different cover crops. The guide was written by members of the Midwest Cover Crops Council and includes information developed by OMAFRA field specialists and University of Guelph researchers. It is available through the Purdue Extension Education Store at or by calling 888-EXTINFO (398-4636). Individual copies of the guide cost $5 each, and boxes of 25 are available at a 10 percent discount, $112.50. The guide is divided into two sections. The first contains general information about cover crops, including selection and planting methods, killing methods, concerns about insects, and ways to keep the crop from becoming a weed. The second contains photos, seeding dates, depth, planting and killing methods, benefits and cautions for specific crops, each given a ranking according to their benefit type and amount.

OMAFRA Food Safety Snippets: Are you selling produce at the farm? By Jan Schooley, Retired Food Safety Specialist, OMAFRA Make sure you think about how human pathogens could get transferred to your product. If you have a farm stall by the road then you need to consider the source of food safety risk. Is there a pasture nearby that will act as a source of flies? Do you have covers for your produce displays? Do you use any props such as grasses or other plants that could be a source of pathogens – or flies? Is your apron clean – and your boots? Have your boots (with your feet in them) been in animal stalls or pasture? Do you have hand sanitizers handy at your stall both for you and for your customers if they need them? You should always be mindful of food safety and the products you sell. Your customers will appreciate it. For training information and resources, please call 1-877-424-1300 or visit our website Food safety questions? Ask us!

Volume 6 Issue 1

Policy & Regulatory Affairs Update

Organic Aquaculture Standards New Organic Standards Released for Canadian Farmed Seafood OTTAWA, ON – May 10, 2012 - With the release of the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard on May 10, Canadian consumers will now have the opportunity to choose certified organic farmed seafood including finfish, shellfish and aquatic plants. Aquaculture, the farming of aquatic plants and animals, is the fastest growing food production system in the world, producing about 50 percent of the seafood consumed today. Because aquatic farming relies on plant and animal husbandry, it is possible to apply organic growing and rearing principles to this system of food production. Like it organic terrestrial counterpart, the organic aquatic sector uses specific farming protocols which minimize the input of synthetic substances and maximize local environmental quality. Specifically, the organic aquaculture standard prohibits the use of antibiotics, herbicides and genetically modified organisms, and severely restricts the use parasiticides, allowed only under veterinary supervision as a last course of treatment. The standard sets measurable requirements for practices that minimize the impact of waste. These include defining stocking rates, cleaning procedures and the cleaning and feed materials that must be used. The new standard was developed with the Canadian General Standards Board and a stakeholder committee of industry members, consumer advocates, regulators and environmental organizations. The draft standard went through two extensive public reviews and countless changes before being published this week. To qualify for organic certification, Canadian aquaculture products must have been grown on farms operating in accordance with organic aquatic farming methods established by the new standards. Farms are inspected by third-party certifying bodies to ensure that the standard has been followed. The new national standard does not currently fall under the scope of Canada’s Organic Products Regulations or Canada’s trade equivalencies for organic products with the United States or European Union. To learn more about the Canadian Organic Aquaculture Standard visit Organic Aquaculture FAQ (pdf) New Organic Standards Released for Canadian Farmed Seafood (French version). For further information: Stephanie Wells Senior Regulatory Affairs Advisor Canada Organic Trade Association 250.335.3423

Ruth Salmon Executive Director Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance 250.701.1431

Regulatory Update from Organic Federation of Canada New Questions and Answers - Standards Interpretation Committee The Organic Standards Interpretation Committee (SIC) provides interpretive guidance to the Canada Organic Office on issues related to the National Standards for Organic Agriculture (CAN/CGSB 32.310 and CAN/CGSB 32.311). Click here to consult the proposed answers to questions, raised by organic stakeholders, regarding the National Standards for Organic Agriculture. The proposed responses are subject to a 60 day comment period starting May 10th, closing July 10th 2012. All comments regarding these answers should be sent to Commented Questions and Answers The Canada Organic Office has received comments about some of the answers posted under the public comment period ending January 30th 2012; the Standards Interpretation Committee considered all comments and, when appropriate, revised these answers. In some cases, comments did not result in a change in the Q&As. Click here to consult the first list of the commented and/or revised Questions and Answers. These Q&As are final and not subject to further comments; they will be integrated into the final Q&As under the CCO website and OFC website


Organic Focus

Spring 2012

Producer Corner


Spray Drift on Organic Farms organic are essential but may be By Hugh Martin inadequate under adverse conditions. One of the biggest threats on organic Treed buffers also help to reduce farms is that of pesticide drift from drift. neighbouring farms or roadside spraying activities. Pesticides travel onto organic  Get to know your neighbours and farms without warning and have several maintain a relationship with open communications. Discuss your repercussions: organic farm and identify spray drift as  Some herbicides can cause plant injury an issue (in a nice way) and ask to be and decrease crop yield, quality and notified before they spray next to marketability; your property whenever possible.  Pesticide drift can increase pesticide  Whenever you suspect pesticide drift residue levels in the harvested crop; onto your farm take photos  Drift can cause organic certification to be immediately and at regular intervals and date them. Keep records of drift suspended for up to 3 years; events including date, time,  Incidents such as drift can strain temperature, wind direction, wind neighbourhood relations. speed, and relative humidity. If possible record the source of the There are a number of reasons that spray spray and field it was sprayed on. drift happens. Pesticide spray drift is the  After a pesticide drift incident has wind-induced movement of pesticide occurred watch for leaf injury droplets or particles (also called vapour) symptoms such as twisted or outside the intended target area. Type of discoloured leaves or stems. equipment, environmental conditions and the chemical nature of the pesticide all influence the potential risk for spray drift. When a situation of pesticide drift is The type of equipment being used suspected by the organic farm, you determines the particle size of spray should first report it to the farmer who droplets. Droplets less than 200 microns is the source of the drift. You will need are most susceptible to movement with to determine the extent of financial wind. Droplets quickly evaporate, especially injury that you have incurred – crop under warmer temperatures, and as they loss, effect on certification, etc – some become smaller they can drift farther. of this will not be known until several OMAFRA has a number of documents to weeks after the event. Hopefully any help you understand spray drift that can be losses can be resolved amicably between found at the two farms and any other spray operators who are involved. Spray To reduce incidents of spray drift there operators carry insurance to cover this are several things an organic farm can type of situation but your records and photos will be essential to justify your do: case for damages.  Put “Do Not Spray” signs along the road at the corners of your property If the situation cannot be resolved to and farm fields to notify neighbours your satisfaction or if this scenario has and custom spray operators not to happened in the past, immediately report it to the Ontario Ministry of spray near the farm; Environment (MOE) who has the  Maintain buffer zones between fields. responsibility to investigate cases of The required 8 metres buffers for pesticide drift. They will send out

investigators and have a range of remedies that can be used including charges and court proceedings. Section 29 of the provincial Pesticides Act requires that anyone who uses a pesticide which causes an adverse effect to notify the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MOE). Should there be any impairment to the quality of life or environment in the use of a pesticide, charges could be laid against the applicator under Section 4. Contact the nearest regional MOE district office or call the Spills Action Centre at toll free: 1-800-268-6060. (Ministry locations are available at or in the Blue Pages of the telephone directory). The MOE and/or insurance investigators will take plant and or soil samples. Not all pesticides can be detected in lab tests especially several weeks after the spray event so timely reporting is essential. You should also notify your organic certification body who may send out an evaluator to assess the situation and they will take appropriate actions. Pesticide drift cannot always be controlled and things happen, but with when there is documented spray drift the generator of that drift has a legal responsibility to take appropriate actions to resolve the issue.

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Volume 6 Issue 1

Producer Corner


Highlights from Organic Science Conference The Conference Proceedings are Now Available! Video Recordings of All Conference Presentations are Now Available! The Science of Organic Farming in Canada, a series of four 20 minute films shot at the Canadian Organic Science Conference (COSC), are now available online. The films feature short reports and interviews with Canadian organic scientists and producers who share their experiences, their vision, and mostly, their great dedication to the development of sound organic production systems in Canada. Keynote Presentation: Organic Research in Canada: Still Small but Roaring By Dr. Ralph Martin, Department of Plant Agriculture, Loblaw Chair in Sustainable Food Production at OAC, University of Guelph. Research in organic agriculture is relatively recent in Canada. Organic farmers and other organic practitioners conducted some of their own experiments while applying what they knew from previous generations, other pioneers and research relevant to organic systems. Within the last three decades, direct research for organic agriculture has increased. The results are of benefit to certified organic practitioners and those in conventional agriculture who want to improve profits, conserve energy, develop resilience to climate change and other variability and maintain healthy soil, clean air, clean water and biodiversity. As agricultural science developed in Canada and elsewhere in the last century, synthetic chemical inputs and other interventions to improve productivity were increasingly common. There was a shift from relying on nutrient and energy flows within farms to using a complex array of yield enhancing products from off-farm. By the last part of the 20th century it was apparent that ‘organic-bydefault’ was not sufficient to differentiate traditional organic agriculture from input-intensive agriculture. However, some inputs such as fossil fuels, machinery and associated technology were deemed to be appropriate. In line with other countries, Canadian organic certifying bodies developed to not only categorize permitted and restricted substances, but to also design practices based on ecological principles. Organic certification is based on inspecting processes rather than on threshold levels of specific substances. Initially this was a challenge to agricultural researchers. It is only within the last two decades that organically certified land and livestock has been used for research in organic agriculture. Farmers correctly noted that researchers should also be subject to short and long term organic conditions. After all, the noun ‘organic’ identifies the sector based on the fundamental principle of feeding the soil to enrich organic matter. Research based only on short term organic management may be applicable to organic farmers although it is necessary to distinguish such research from that on certified organic research units. Since 2001, OACC has coordinated organic research across Canada and the Organic Science Cluster, approved in 2009, was a major step forward. Organic agriculture is unique in that it is clearly defined along a complete value chain and serves as an excellent model of sustaining food systems. Regardless of the proportion of Canadian practitioners who adopt organic certification, the impact of research and practice in organic systems provides significant options and a value-chain benchmark as all agricultural researchers and practitioners continue efforts to sustain adequate food production and resilience.

Organic Seed Database and Produce Price Tracker With support from OCO, EFO and the Agricultural Management Institute (AMI)*, Canadian Organic Growers PerthWaterloo-Wellington (COG PWW) is created new tools and programs to strengthen the organic farming sector. Certified Organic Seed Database - Find Organic Seed Right Here! Check out this support tool for organic farmers: an online, searchable database of exclusively certified organic seed. You can access the tool at and read more about it on The COG Blog. Organic Produce Price Tracker Visit to search for farmers’ market and wholesale/bulk prices for certified organic produce in your region. The project is still looking for farms to participate by providing their prices, particularly wholesale or bulk prices. Your farm will not be identified and your prices will be factored into a range displayed for your region, but you will be supporting a project that benefits the organic farming community as a whole, especially new farmers. Please contact Jacob at OCO if you would like to get involved: or 519-827-1221

Organic Focus

Spring 2012

Market & Consumer Trends


Local organic apples will be hard to find due to extreme weather events. Guelph, Ontario: Summer-like temperatures in February and winter-like temperatures in April have caused havoc in Ontario’s orchards. Two weeks of extremely warm weather in February followed by multiple frost events have left Ontario’s fruit producers forecasting drastic reductions in production. Filsinger’s Organics has been growing apples since 1953 in Ayton, Ontario and farm manager Brandon Weber has never seen anything like this before. “We’ve experienced 17 hard frosts this year already, most of which came after 2 very warm weeks that resulted in the trees budding early.” He says there is not much they can do about these extreme weather events and they are really at the mercy of Mother Nature. Their season has been “pretty much wiped out” although they cannot know how bad it will be as they could still see more frosts before the end of May. Brian Gilroy, a Georgian Bay area apple grower who is chairman of the Ontario Apple Growers, said the loss to fruit growers and the economy will easily be more than $100 million. On top of the lost yield or no crop at all, orchard workers and spinoff industries such as juice, packing, storage and farm supplies will be affected.

Mary Milanovich of Apple Creek Farm, a Drayton Ontario certified organic apple grower with 800 apple trees, said “we will see significant loss in production, at least 50%, although we really cannot quantify it yet.” Milanovich points out that some varieties of apples have been more affected than others, many being completely wiped out, with others that tend to bud later in the season having fared slightly better. The apples that do still grow this year will likely be of lower quality and will only be suitable for processed products such as apple cider or apple butter. Even then, Brandon Weber notes, they will likely have to replace what they normally grow here with organic apples from British Columbia or the United States. As a result, consumers will be hard pressed to find Ontario apples this year. Jacob Pries of the Organic Council of Ontario says “consumers should expect to see higher prices at the till for the apples that are available. Higher prices are likely to continue over the next several years as farmers attempt to recoup losses from this year.” Many of the expenses associated with growing apples will still be necessary, as pests are still an issue even with little or no crop. Weber points out that if they don’t control for pests this year it will cause

increased pest problems over the next years, so they still have to spend money and time on pest and fungus control even for trees with no apples. As the effects of climate change such as extreme weather events become more frequent, new methods to ensure apples can withstand colder temperatures, higher pest pressures, or droughts are needed. According to research biologist Douglas Nichols of the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association, research is being done to develop hardier varieties, but it is happening at a slower pace than may be necessary. Other methods of ensuring resilient orchards that may show some promise include increasing soil fertility through use of trace minerals. However, with frosts as low as -8 C. as have been seen this year, Weber and Milanovich say that there was little that could have been done to save their crops. The Organic Council of Ontario is the voice on organic issues in Ontario and is putting more organic food on Ontario’s plates. Organic Council members from along the organic value chain, from producer to processor to eater, work together to raise the profile of organics as a good news story for health, climate change mitigation, and sustainability.

Stop the GM Apple! Take Action before July 3. The small BC company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits has just submitted their request to Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency for approval of their GM “non-browning” apple. Contamination from GM apples threatens the future of our apples, and the farmers who grow them. The GM “non-browning” apple is engineered to keep from going brown after being cut. This apple is designed for fast food companies and other companies that use pre-cut apples. The technology was developed in Australia and licensed by the small BC company called Okanagan Specialty Fruits. Okanagan Specialty Fruits asked for approval in the US in March 2010 and has just asked for approval in Canada. The GM apple has not yet been approved anywhere in the world. You can see the summary of information the company has submitted to the CFIA to request approval of the GM apple. The submission remains secret and is not available to the public. In 2001, BC apple growers stopped the GM apple from being field tested in Canada. The federal government agricultural station in Summerland in the Okanagan valley, an important fruit growing area, was preparing to start field trials but BC growers who were concerned about contamination stopped these field trials from happening. In September 2011 Canadian Biotechnology Action Network and organizations from across BC organized a series of public events to

discuss genetic engineering. At an event in Keremeos, Lee McFadyen of Mariposa Organic Farm and the Live Earth Organic Growers Association pointed out that there are already several varieties of apple that don’t brown. Orchardist Andrea Turner of the Similkameen Okanagan Organic Producers Association said, “The tree fruit industry cannot afford anything silly like that”. Take Action (New Deadline!) Before July 3, 2012: Send your comments to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at plaveg/bio/subs/biocome.asp  Tell the government that you don’t want to eat a GM apple!  GM apples are not wanted by consumers  BC apple growers have already rejected the GM apple Contamination from GM apples is a risk to Canadian apple producers  The CFIA and Health Canada should not be wasting public funds reviewing a GM apple that no one wants.  The government should consult with farmers and consumers before it approves any new GM crop.

Volume 6 Issue 1

Get Engaged with Ontario Organics!


Organic Can Feed The World More and more food is being produced organically these days, while more and more shoppers are filling their carts with organic items. It seems that the organic movement is here to stay and may even one day no longer be called a movement, but rather organic agriculture may be accepted as the norm. But, as it currently stands, based on current yield levels, can organic agriculture feed the world today? To answer this question, I had to delve into the facts. To start, feeding the world means that there is enough food for every single human being on the planet. Right now that number is roughly 7.013 billion people and, on average, we need about 2, 000 calories daily. However, as David Biello from the Scientific American points out, 22 trillion calories are produced each year via agriculture which amounts to more than 3, 000 calories per person per day. And, he states, in the U.S. alone, 215 meals per person go to waste each year. Biello isn’t the first person to argue that the world’s problem of food insecurity and hunger are the result of food distribution. So much food is wasted in richer countries, where more is produced and available. A report commissioned by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) found that 30% of grains and 40-50% of root crops and fruits and vegetables are either lost or thrown out globally each year. It seems that we are producing a lot more food than we actually need and letting it go to waste, while not tackling the distribution issue and the millions of hungry world-wide who do not have access to affordable food. Currently, the FAO reports that almost 1 billion people world-wide do not have enough to eat. As Raj Patel, a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy reports, “the cause of hunger today isn’t a shortage of food — it’s poverty.” As some

In OCO’s Office:

How you can help put more organics on Ontario’s plates!

research has shown, organic yields might not be as high as conventional yields. This is not surprising, and investigating such a question really takes time. Long term experiments are needed to assess organicconventional yield differences. The answer to this question is debatable and has already attracted many researchers from the scientific community. For example, a recent study published in Nature concluded that when best management practices are used, organic yields can almost match conventional yields. Even seed and plant protection giants argue that their existence and business activities help to reduce hunger and feed the world. For example, Monsanto’s CEO Hugh Grant reports that he is “excited by recent advances by the private and public sectors in creating solutions for farmers that increase yields per acre while at the same time requiring fewer environmental resources...” Meanwhile, a recent article in the Ontario Farmer entitled “Feeding the world top priority at Syngenta” reports that the company spends $3 million dollars a day on plant breeding and crop development. What is missing though is a report about the profits turned in each day by the company, and the concrete efforts the company is making in terms of reducing global hunger. As Bob Ried, the author of the article, points out, “the fact that the research is also key to feeding a hungry world could be regarded by some as coincidental.” In closing, to answer the question of whether or not organics can feed the world I also have to remember a „Global Thinking -Local Responsibility‟ conference I attended where two presenters where also asked to answer this question. The first presenter, an economist, showed his graphs and tables before saying, no, it isn’t possible based on what we know now of current organic yield levels. The second presenter quoted the

OCO Working Groups are:  Marketing Ontario Organics,  Regulatory Affairs,  Policy Development/Ethics,  Food Safety Issues.

philosopher Heinz von Foerster, who stated that we should always take responsibility for what we believe in, and any scientific question usually results in a yes or no answer. So if organic is truly the route agriculture should take, we have to be responsible for this and still ensure that people everywhere have enough to eat. Based on the fact that we waste so much food in our society at present and that organic-conventional yields may not be all that different when best practices are applied, I would have to say a system which places ecological and human health at the forefront can in fact feed the world. Feeding the world with organic agriculture can be possible if one does not view this question from how food is produced, but rather how the food we produce and could produce organically is distributed. Sources used (other than articles sent): ags/publications/brochure_phl_low.pdf http:// 26/can-biotech-food-cure-world-hunger/ Pages/hugh-grant-oped-end-worldhunger.aspx World_population

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OCO is offering internships: We are looking for individuals interested in aiding in our research, outreach, and communications activities. Must be able to provide own transportation.

For details visit or contact our office.

5420 Highway 6 North Guelph, ON N1H 6J2 Phone: 519.827.1221 E-mail:

Board of Directors 2012 Matt LeBeau Chair LeBeau Advance

Jenn Pfenning Vice Chair Pfennings Organic Farm

Tom Manley Director Homestead Organics

Marketing Representative

Producer Representative

Processing Representative

Ted Zettel Director, Regulatory Affairs Organic Meadow Cooperative

Simon Jacques Director Eco-Cert ltd.

Shauna Bloom Director Ecological Farmers of Ontario

Member at Large

Certifier Representative

Association Representative

Bernd Licht Treasurer Puresource Inc.

Maureen Kirkpatrick Secretary Big Carrot

Gilbert Arnold Agriculture & Agri-Food Canada

Distributor Representative

Direct to Consumer (Retail & Restaurants) Representative


Staff 2012

The Organic Council of Ontario and its members represent Ontario’s organic farmers, producers, processors, marketers, d i s t r i b u t o r s , retailers, restaurants, certifiers and others, providing leadership and support for the continued growth of the organic sector. OCO is a strong voice for the sector with media, government, national bodies, and represents Ontario on the Organic Federation of Canada. The Organic Council of O n t a r io g r a t e f u lly acknowledges financial support provided by our Membership as well as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Jodi Koberinski Executive Director

Jacob Pries Communications

Elizabeth Stewart COfarmer

Johnny Camara

Industry Membership

Lesley Bulman Accounting

A Foodland Ontario marketing survey conducted in 2011 indicated that more than one-quarter of shoppers surveyed would buy organic more often if they knew it was from Ontario. To appeal to Ontario consumers who shop for organic products and help them to choose Ontario organic foods first, Foodland Ontario has a new resource for producers and processors to identify their food as both certified organic and local. Producers and processors who want to use the logo on their promotional and marketing materials will need to verify that their products are certified to the Canadian Organic Standard as well as meet the Ontario food definitions found on the Foodland Ontario website: For more information on how to get the Foodland Ontario Organic logo, contact the Client Services Officer, Sandra Jones, at or 519-826-3947 (toll free 1-888466-2372 ext. 63947).

Organic Focus - Spring 2012  
Organic Focus - Spring 2012  

The Organic Council of Ontario's Industry Newsletter for Spring, 2012