After much anticipation, the Regenerative Organic Alliance (ROA) recently announced the creation and implementation of the Regenerative Organic Certified (ROC) certification standard for food, fiber and personal care products. Created by a group of experts in farming, ranching, soil health, animal welfare and fair trade, the program underwent a pilot phase before being open for general certification.
While organic pioneers like Robert Rodale talked about regenerative organic agriculture decades ago and Grain Place Foods’ David Vetter has long been using such practices, it wasn’t until 2018 that a more formal vision was constructed through ROA. First formed in 2018, ROA was created to promote and encourage more engagement in regenerative organic farming. The ROC standard was then formed and a pilot program for products was launched. The new certification has three levels—bronze, silver and gold. Somewhat similar to the rigor of B-Corps, to level up, participants are expected to phase in more rigorous regenerative organic practices over time. Yet, in order to start the process of eligibility, farmers must first hold organic certification from the USDA. They then must meet further “regenerative” criteria that addresses soil health, animal welfare and social fairness.
The announcement of the launch of ROC ushered in the arrival of the certification’s first products in the marketplace. Not unexpectedly, this group includs the likes of known organic heavy hitters Dr. Bronner’s, Nature’s Path and Patagonia Provisions along with product from newcomers like California-based Apricot Lane Farms, also known as “The Biggest Little Farm.” And, Tablas Creek Winery based in California's Paso Robles region has garned the status of being the first vineyard in the world to attain ROC certification. Of course, farming pioneer David Vetter of Grain Place Foods is in the mix, too.
Next steps are for ROA to increase the number of approved certifiers and to increase the number of products certified in partnership with the program’s manager, NSF International. ROC products will be available at retail, but Patagonia Provisions' website will also serve as the official e-commerce source for these products. Here are the ROC pioneers to look for on shelf.