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Organic Conference Sidney, BC 2011

Spent the day recovering from the eventful, informative, inspiring and delicious COABC Conference that was held in Sidney, BC over the weekend. Learned lots, met some great people and saw folks I have haven’t seen in quite some time. A few stand out presentations for me included: anti-GMO MP Alex Atamanenko‘s welcome speech; the semi-virtual tour of Hermann and Louis Bruns’ Wild Flight Farm;  Alec McErlich’s (Earthbound Farm) thorough review of physical and ecological weed management approaches, and Anthony Nicalo’s (Foodtree)  thought provoking and personal keynote on the need for  Slow Money.

The event left me both inspired and also overwhelmed – inspired because there are so many competent growers out there in BC that are innovating and pushing what is possible to achieve on one’s farm. Overwhelmed, because I have so much left to learn…

For those that missed the event, I understand that conference presentations will eventually be posted on the COABC website.

Mary Forstbauer busy knitting at the registration table.

MP Alex Atamanenko welcoming conference participants.

Hermann Bruns explaining how his packing shed pallet dollies work.

VanCity's David Berge explaining their interest and commitment to financing local food and farming initiatives.

Anthony Nicalo emphasizing the need for slow money for slow food.

COABC President, Brad Reid, honouring the conference organizers, Rochelle Eisen and Lee Fuge.

Organic Farming Conference this Weekend!

Looking forward to hanging out with my friends and learning more from fellow farmers and foodies at the Certified Organic Associations of BC Annual Conference and General Meeting in Sidney BC this weekend. The Conference, entitled: The Next Generation, is focused on ‘tooling up’ – basically, how to get more folks growing successfully. The Saturday gala should be good. Expect great food, stimulating converstation, and inspiring speakers speaking about a timely subject – investing in the food system we want. I’m really looking forward to hearing Davide Berge from Vancity’s  and Anthony Nicalo from Slow Money  speak  on the opportunity and challenge for investing in the food system we all want (and need!). There are a only few tickets left. I’ve attached some more info. on the featured speakers. Look forward to seeing you all there!

Where Innovation and Impact meet – Vancity speaks as a financial co-operative about finance, food and farming: David Berge (7:00 – 7:20pm) David is the Senior Vice President of Community Investment at Vancity, with $14.5 billion in assets and over 410,000 members. Founder and CEO of Underdog Ventures, LLC, a company which creates and manages customized community investment venture capital funds, integrating socially responsible investment, community development finance and philanthropic components.  Its last venture fund has to date created more than 9 x invested capital in equity and cash gifts from entrepreneurs to benefit non-profits.   Underdog Ventures was recognized as one of ten U.S. financial institutions providing especially strong benefits to the environment and one of the top five funds supporting social mission.

Slow Money: Anthony Nicalo (7:20 – 7:40 pm) Slow Money is both a movement and an organization. The movement is a response to money that is too fast, companies that are too big, and finance that is too complex. Its goal is to make it possible for people to easily and directly connect our values to the way we spend and invest our money. It starts with local food because building healthy, robust local food systems is the first step towards building a restorative economy. The organization focuses on four initiatives: building networks, creating new financial products and services, developing educational programs, and designing assessment tools to further the efforts of the movement.

Anthony has spent his career as a chef and entrepreneur dedicated to the notion that story should be a key ingredient in everything we consume: the story of what, the story of where, the story of when, the story of how, and the story of why. Every business he turns his hand to celebrates provenance – from provenir (Fr.) “the origin or source of something” – as the heart of what makes things good. His grandfather’s garden – a lush acre that echoed the story of his family’s long history with the land — was the first place he learned to love the taste and texture of produce pulled fresh from the earth. He carried this love through days spent scouting local flavor as a chef in locations from Hawaii to Italy, and into his role as director at Inevitable Table, private chef service of the Obamas. Anthony then turned his focus to sourcing and promoting quality food and wine for fellow lovers of story. The journey began with Farmstead Wines, the result of Anthony’s efforts to share the dedication and passion of winemaking vinaroons, and continued in his work with Farmfed, a non-profit organization dedicated to reconnecting producers, consumers and food. Now Anthony is pouring that same passion for provenance into Foodtree, a global, participatory database of local food. His goal is to make it normal to know where your food comes from, while helping growers and suppliers use social technology to share their product’s story with consumers who care about where their food comes from, and how it ends up on their table. Anthony is a founding member of the Slow Money Alliance.