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Natural Products Expo

The future of farming: Galvanizing a young generation of growers

On the Friday of Expo West 2017, the show floor became a classroom. We launched the first ever Expo West field trip for a group of 20 Los Angeles kids. Here's what happened.

Natural Products Expo West is a constant evolution of fresh ideas, innovations and out of the box thinking. When a brainstorming session with Back to the Roots (BTTR) led to a never-been-done-before field trip on the show floor for local Los Angeles kids, we embraced the idea. With the help of Back to the Roots, the Ron Finley Project, Earthroots Field School and Compton Jr. Posse, the field trip came to life.

The kids started their adventure with an education session with Ron Finley, Elizabeth Candelario, Te’Lario Watkins II and Back to the Roots focused on the Future of Farming. They learned about initiatives that they can take to #undofood in their own communities and schools to help create greater access to fresh and healthy options. Tiger Mushroom Farms founder Te’Lario Watkins II, the 9-year-old mushroom maestro, inspired everyone in the room with his story of how his love for plants became a lifestyle (and growing business).

After the presentation, the group huddled outside of the convention hall to discuss the mission of Back to the Roots, interact with grow kits and collect the backpacks donated by BTTR. Alejandro Velez and Nikhil Arora, founders of Back to the Roots, discussed aquaponics, the beginnings of their company and the reward of a career in food.

After a quick mini-education session, it was time for the show floor. The first stop: a dance with Clover Sonoma's friendly dairy cow and a sampling of their delicious yogurts. The buzz of an already positively energized Expo crowd was warmed by the bright faces of future foodies.  

 Next up, a fireside chat with Gary Erickson, owner and founder of Clif Bar. Surrounded by photographs of Clif's beginning and learning from an industry pioneer was an unforgettable experience for the group. 

In addition to Clif, the kids made their next stops by barnana, Suja juice and Runa.

The main themes of these visits revolved around getting back to real food and how this simple move can connect us to who we are and help us develop as individuals.

Popcorn, pretzel and pops closed out the day. Quinn shared the magic of farm-to-bag, GoodPop was a hit with better-for-you afternoon treats and Sir Kensington's bid us a "divine alternative" farewell—reminding the group to always be remarkable.


In closing, a final resounding chant rang through the Expo Hall, 20 hearts full and their spirits "Fired Up, Ready to Go." 

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