Organic Conference Turns 30

January 14, 2011 - News Release

The Guelph Organic Conference will mark its 30th birthday this year with international speakers, seminars and workshops on everything from organic production and certification to climate change and sustainable agriculture.

Started three decades ago by graduate students as an afternoon seminar, the conference and organic trade show now attract more than 2,000 people to campus each year. This year’s event runs Jan. 27 to 30 in the University Centre and Rozanski Hall.

“Generation Organic” is the theme of this year's conference, which features a keynote address by Tom Manley of Homestead Organics, along with his father, Murray, and son, Yannick. Their talk, titled “Our Common Thread: Organic Food Through the Generations,” is Jan. 29 at 9:15 a.m. in Rozanski Hall.

An interactive workshop Jan. 28 from 9 a.m. to noon on “Participatory Development and Agro-Ecological Farming for Food Security — International Perspectives” is intended for people interested in global sustainable food systems. Among the participants is U of G professor Sally Humphries, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, who will share her experiences of working with Honduran farmers.

Humphries started a research project in 1992 that has grown into a Honduran NGO called Foundation for Participatory Research With Honduran Farmers. It engages farmers in research and crop improvement so they can develop and adapt seeds for their own particular needs. They need access to plant varieties suitable to their growing conditions, she said. “Until farmers have the right seeds adapted to their area, it’s very hard to do organic agriculture.”

Other conference highlights include an organic expo/tasting fair with more than 150 exhibitors on Saturday and Sunday in the University Centre. It is free and open to the public.

Visitors can also attend seminars and workshops on organic branding and marketing, crop planning, edible weeds and forest gardening, and view displays by organic producers, retailers, consumers, researchers and students.

Registration and additional information are available online.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982 or

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1