Making “Organic Connections”
by Marla Carlson
In 2004, a small group of Saskatchewan organic farmers identified a need for an event to bring together the organic community to provide information on the how to improve their farming practice, find out about the latest organic consumer trends, learn about what was on the horizon for this small but growing sector, and to have fun! They called it Organic Connections (OC). The goal was, and continues to be, excellence: the best speakers, the best trade show, and the best certified organic food for conference goers. All of this, combined with the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, keeps folks coming back for more.
This year, Organic Connections is taking place in Saskatoon at Prairieland Park from November 1–3. This is the largest venue we have used for the event and it provides the opportunity to grow our trade show and program. The board is always trying to improve our offering and this year we have a number of firsts: we are offering childcare to encourage young families to take part, we have the room for equipment manufacturers to participate in the trade show, and we are opening up our banquet to the public, providing an opportunity to share a meal with the organic community.
Every conference the board works to bring in speakers that are top in their field and represent all aspects of the organic sector. This year we are pleased to be bringing in Dr. Elaine Ingham, a world-renowned microbiologist and soil biology researcher, to talk about the “soil food web”; Cary Gillam, an investigative journalist and author of a recently published book, Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science; Zach Bush, MD, whose mission is to provide science-based information to bring about radical change by “up-shifting” consumer behaviour to bring about radical change in industrial farming, big pharma, and Western medicine; and last but not least, Greg Johnson, the Tornado Hunter, will be the after-dinner speaker at our banquet. The program will be rounded out with 20 more speakers so there will be something for everyone!
When we asked our conference attendees what they thought we could do better, the resounding response was to have the opportunity to take a deeper dive into some of the topics we were covering. So, in 2012, we added a full-day workshop focussed on soil health and weed control. This year we are pleased to have Jay Fuhrer, a conservationist employed by the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bismarck, North Dakota. Jay emphasizes soil health as a foundation for cropping systems, grazing systems, cover crops, soil biology, pollinators, insects, wildlife, and quality of life. Dr. Steve Shirtliffe, Agronomy Professor at the University of Saskatchewan, will be sharing his research on weed management.
We will be welcoming over 500 members of the organic community to Saskatoon in November and are looking for volunteers to help us make the event a success. Whether it is as a volunteer, conference attendee, sponsor, or exhibitor, this conference is going to be great! If you are interested in finding out more, have a look at our recently relaunched website—www.organicconnections.ca. You will find all the latest information and online forms to make it easy for you to participate. Looking forward to seeing you in Saskatoon in November.
Marla Carlson is the president of Organic Connections. To contact her, email: email@example.com. For more info about the trade show, sponsorship opportunities, or to get added to our distribution list, please contact Carla Borsa, Event Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org. Also see the display ad on page 7 of the 24.2 July/August issue of the WHOLifE Journal.