GUELPH—January 27, 2005—The Guelph Organic Agriculture Conference wrapped up its 24th year at the University Centre at the University of Guelph, January 21-23. The event drew over 1,600 participants including almost 130 exhibitors, over 50 speakers and community leaders, and 75 volunteers that support the emergence of a new agricultural paradigm -- local organic farming -- as an alternative to industrial agriculture.
“The event was a huge success and exceeded all of our expectations,” says Tomas Nimmo, Conference Manager. Saturday's raging blizzard did not deter the many who travelled from all parts of Southern Ontario and in fact, from across the country, to attend the three-day Conference.
“It is clear that people care about how our current food production system may negatively affect their personal health and the environment. They want to support organic farmers that are doing good for people and the planet,” Nimmo says.
The Conference marked a number of firsts. The first Eco-Scholarship winners were welcomed. With funding from the Laidlaw Foundation, 50 Canadian students and 12 honourable mentions were given free access to the Conference, including 30 seminars and workshops, and the Public Forum program. Roxanne Beavers, designated spokesperson for the Roots of Change eco-scholarship programs, says the experience was an invaluable one.
“The Roots of Change eco-scholarship was valuable because it helped me to meet other students of organic agriculture and learn from researchers and producers through the workshop programs,” says Beavers, a second year student in the Master of Science program at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College.
In fact, Beavers was also a presenter at a workshop with the theme of organic weed control, a critical issue for farmers not using chemicals.
“Presenting my research results to organic farmers was an amazing chance to connect with the people who can put the research to use. The conference inspired me to continue working towards a future in organic agriculture, a future where I now see myself more clearly,” she concludes.
The Conference also welcomed Frank Ingratta, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food. "It marks an important visit by senior Agriculture Ministry staff to the Conference where they met with organic industry sector leaders,” says Nimmo.
For a complete list of exhibitors and guest speakers, visit www.guelphorganicconf.ca
The 25th Guelph Organic Conference will be at the University of Guelph in late January 2006, with dates finalized in May 2005.
Members of the media will be receiving an information package by mail in the summer for the Conference’s silver anniversary. Don’t miss out! Be sure the Conference Manager has your correct mailing address by e-mailing him your current mailing address.
Tomas Nimmo, Conference Manager