Press release: Oct.18.2010
Farming & Food Security: A Provincial First

NL’s 1st Sustainable Farming Conference, October 22-24th

Newfoundland & Labrador’s First Sustainable Farming Conference will be held on October 22-24th, at the College of the North Atlantic (1 Prince Phillip Drive) and at various farm locations near the City of St. John’s.

The Conference is the initiative of ACORN-NL (Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network – NL): a recently incorporated industry organization of new and experienced organic farmers interested in promoting ecological farming, and working toward quality food choices and self-sufficiency in the province.

The Conference includes an impressive roster of local, regional and Canadian experts in sustainable and organic agriculture and food policy including Theresa Schumilas and Wayne Roberts of Ontario, and Rupert Jannasch and Norbert Kungl of Nova Scotia.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring Canadian and Atlantic Canadian experts together in a forum to share their knowledge in growing food sustainably,” says Greg Wood, a new entrant in organic farming and board member of ACORN-NL. “Also, recent climate events such as Igor really hammers home the need for food policies and food self-sufficiency. We see this conference as an important opportunity to dialogue on these issues, and present expert and practical information for all growers, gardeners and government policy researchers.”

The Conference includes panel discussions, workshops, on-farm practicals, one-on-one sessions, locally-sourced meals and more. The complete program is available at: acornnl.wordpress.com.

The conference is supported with the assistance of the Provincial Wellness Program (Dept. Health) and DNR (Agrifoods), College of the North Atlantic and Grenfell College.

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Contacts:

Alison Dyer, ACORN-NL coordinator / communications / 709.576.1312 / acorn-nl@acornorganic.org

Mark Wilson, ACORN-NL 2010 Conference coordinator / 709.764.3169 nlorganics!yahoo.ca

PRESS RELEASES:

New Shades of Green

NL sends participants to Eastern Canada’s largest Organic Conference 

St. John’s, NL, Canada – March, 17, 2010 Four delegates from Newfoundland and Labrador’s organic industry participated in the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network’s (ACORN) 10th Anniversary Conference and Trade Show held last week in Charlottetown, PEI, an event that drew about 450 participants. 

 Entitled “Celebrating a Decade of Growth,” the much-anticipated 3-day event included the first ever Organic Berry Symposium in addition to a packed conference program with veterans and innovators from the North American organic community including keynote speaker Marty Mesh (of the Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers).

For the Newfoundland and Labrador participants, the conference and trade show presented a tremendous opportunity to meet with growers, retailers, suppliers, certification bodies and others in the organic industry; to be exposed t new production research and practices; and learn new techniques in everything from seed and cultivar selection to value-added production and marketing.

Owner of the Rocks to Riches organic farm in St. Philips, Don Bragg says that it was important for him to attend. “We’re currently expanding our vegetable/fruit production and want to gain a better understanding of the organic practices and equipment used for farming a larger acreage.”

Greg Wood, of Hillside Organics in Deer Lake, attended last year’s conference and was eager to participate again.Finally, organic farming is being seen as a viable sector of agriculture,” he says. “The positive energy from the young and old at the conference was all around.  A show of hands indicated that over 25 percent of people at the event were under 40 years of age – a great sign for the future of organic farming.”

“This conference successfully brings together not only farmers and other members of the certified organic food chain but incubates ideas that improve the access to local and organic (healthy) food in a real sense,” said Mark Wilson, an organic farmer who intends to break ground on his own farm in Portugal Cove this year.  “The conference allowed me to make research linkages that will help me directly on the farm move towards truly environmentally sustainable farming techniques.”

Alison Dyer, a freelance environmental writer, farm assistant with the Lien Family Farm in Portugal Cove, and NL representative on the ACORN board of directors says she is inspired by the dedication of the organic sector and the collective knowledge of best practices and innovative techniques. “The conference provided a wealth in information and linkages that can be directly applied to building capacity in the Newfoundland and Labrador organic sector.”

The participation of conference delegates was made possible by funding from the federal-provincial Growing Forward Program. Provincially, the Department of Natural Resources’ supports the goals of the ACORN-NL, the provincial chapter. DNR’s commitment includes the assignment of crop specialist Jane White, whose portfolio includes that of organic specialist. For more information, visit ACORN website: www.acornorganic.org or ACORN-NL blog: https://acornnl.wordpress.com.

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For more information, or to set up interviews with organic farmers, contact:

Alison Dyer
ACORN-NL
t. 709.576.1312
e. acorn-nl@acornorganic.org
https://acornnl.wordpress.com

Beth McMahon

Executive Director, ACORN

1-866-322-2676

admin@acornorganic.org

www.acornorganic.org

Backgrounder:

About ACORN:  The Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network is a not-for-profit organization established in 2000. It aims to enhance the viability and growth of the Atlantic Canadian organic agricultural community through a unified regional network.

About ACORN-NL: Since its formation in April 2008, the organization (which includes experienced and aspiring farmers, retailers, consumers, and researchers among others), works to promote organic agriculture in the province. To date its activities have included organic workshops, organic farm visits/talks, completion of an organic producers’ survey and input directory, establishing research links, creation of an information/networking blog and participation in various conferences and events.

List of NL Participants at the ACORN 2010 Conference:

Greg Wood, Hillside Organics (Deer Lake)

Don Bragg, Rocks to Riches (St. Philips)

Mark Wilson, NL Organics (St. John’s & Portugal Cove)

Alison Dyer, Farm assistant (St. John’s)

May 6, 2009
Media Release
Interest in Organic Industry Growing in Newfoundland & Labrador:

NL sends record 12 participants to annual regional organic conference

St. John’s, NL, Canada – May 6, 2009 – For the first time ever, 12 delegates from Newfoundland and Labrador attended the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network (ACORN) Organic and Agri-Food conference and trade show, this year held in Truro, Nova Scotia. With almost 500 participants it was the largest conference to date and, as ACORN’s Executive Director Beth McMahon says, “it speaks volumes about the energy of organics in Atlantic Canada.”

The 12 participants varied widely in their agricultural interests, production practices, agricultural experience and geographical locations. This diversity was beneficial and created a heightened awareness of the range of issues facing the organic agri-industry in NL.

“The trade show was a great opportunity to learn what is happening in the Atlantic Region, and by the number of young people in attendance it shows that organic farming is alive and well,” observed Martin Walsh, a blueberry farmer from Colliers, Conception Bay, who is interested in transitioning to organic.

For Colette Urban, a new entrant who has established an organic farm in McIvers, on Newfoundland’s west coast, the conference was “a comfortable forum that provided knowledge to varying scales of farmers.”

Aspiring farmer and organic apprentice Lindsey Hewitt commented that she “learned a lot of practical skills,” from grafting trees to record-keeping. “This conference allowed me to network with other individuals farming in Atlantic Canada and to benefit from their knowledge and expertise.”

For Don Bragg, a new organic farmer on the Avalon, the conference provided a roadmap of how to develop his organic farm. “We are currently expanding our farm and increasing our marketing effort,” said Bragg. “[We] will use the strategies and practical production methods outlined in the workshops as our template for moving forward.”

Enthusiasm from the returning conference delegates has translated into furthering the goals for the recently formed ACORN-NL, a provincial subgroup of the not-for-profit organization ACORN. Activities of ACORN-NL following the conference have included participation in the Canadian Organic Grower’s workshop (on the soon-to-be implemented national organic standards), establishing a blog (https://acornnl.wordpress.com) as a promotional and networking tool; and undertaking its first ever survey on the provincial organic agricultural industry. The survey will help the organization better understand the current status of the organic agricultural community in the province, develop an industry profile and identify specific challenges.

“Results of the survey will help guide the growth of this sector,” says Mark Wilson, an organic farmer and NL’s only organic inspector. “ACORN-NL will use it to address non-formal training needs, like workshops in organic methods and market access, as well as looking at ways to remove barriers to certification and, in general, promote consumer awareness.”

The participation of the 12 delegates at the conference was made possible by funding from the federal Agri-Adapt Program. Provincially, the Department of Natural Resources’ supports the goals of ACORN-NL. DNR’s commitment includes the assignment of crop specialist Jane White whose portfolio includes that of organic specialist.

As organic moves from niche to mainstream*, and more local farmers become aware of the organic potential of this province, the future – while not without its challenges – looks bright for organic agriculture.

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Backgrounder: List of NL Participants at the ACORN 2009 Conference:

Don Bragg (Rocks to Riches, Portugal Cove)

Lindsey Hewitt (organic apprentice, Creston South)

Diane Hollett (consultant for Sapworld)

Winston & Linda Osmond (Fogo Island Farms, Shoal Bay, Fogo Island)

Mike & Melba Rabinowitz (The Organic Farm, Portugal Cove)

Sarah J. Stoker (organic apprentice, Portugal Cove)

Stan Tobin (Ship Cove, Placentia Bay)

Colette Urban (Full Tilt Newfoundland Enterprises Ltd., McIvers)

Martin Walsh (Walsh’s Blueberry Farms Ltd, Colliers)

Greg Wood (Hillside Organics, Deer Lake)

What is Organic Agriculture: The principal goal of organic production is to develop enterprises that are sustainable and harmonious with the environment (Canadian Organic Growers)

*Recent Stats on Organic: Organic and natural foods are the only grocery segments that are growing, and that trend is forecast to continue for years to come: Organic markets are witnessing 20-22% growth in Canada, with retails sales exceeding $1 billion in Canada in 2006. In their first annual Certified Organics Report released May 2007, Nielsen reports consumer demand for organic products is soaring. “Over half of Canadian households (51.5%) bought organically grown food in 2006. Strong growth within the past year has retailers across Canada responding by increasing their organic product offerings.”

About ACORN: The Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network is a not-for-profit organization established in 2000. It aims to enhance the viability and growth of the Atlantic Canadian organic agricultural community through a unified regional network.

About ACORN-NL: Established in April 2008, the NL provincial group of ACORN includes experienced and aspiring farmers, processors, retailers, consumers, food activists among others. The organization promotes organic agriculture in the province through activities such as organic workshops, organic farm visits/talks, and participation in various conferences. The group has the support of the Department of Natural Resources to move the priorities of the industry ahead. For more information, visit ACORN website: http://www.acornorganic.org or ACORN-NL blog: https://acornnl.wordpress.com.

For more information, or to set up interviews with organic farmers, contact:

Alison Dyer

Coordinator, ACORN-NL

709-576-1312

acorn-nl@acornorganic.org

https://acornnl.wordpress.com
http://www.acornorganic.org

Beth McMahon

Executive Director, ACORN

1-866-322-2676

admin@acornorganic.org

http://www.acornorganic.org

March 31, 2009
For Immediate Release
MEDIA RELEASE
Understanding the New Organic Regime:
Newfoundland & Labrador organic agricultural community participate in important workshop on new Canadian Organic Regulations

St. John’s, NL, Canada – March 31, 2009 – Organic agricultural industry players in Newfoundland and Labrador, including experienced farmers, new entrants, apprentices and processors, participated in an intensive day-long workshop entitled “Understanding the New Organic Regime: A Primer for Farmers” at the Provincial Agriculture Building in St. John’s on Saturday, March 28th. The workshop, presented by organic inspector Rowena Hopkins from New Brunswick, was one in a series given across Canada by the Canadian Organic Growers (a Canadian not-profit-organization).
The workshops provided an overview of the Canadian Organic Regime (known as the Organic Products Regulations, 2009) which will come into effect as of June 30, 2009 and will apply to all organic products traded across provincial and national borders. The workshop detailed the principles of organic production, key components of Crop and Livestock Standards, and Permitted Substances List.
Certified organic and long-time vegetable farmers Mike and Melba Rabinowitz of Portugal Cove, and recently certified organic beef producer Stan Tobin of Ship Cove, participated in the workshop to find out about key changes in the Canadian Organic Standards and how these changes will impact their operations.
“This was an excellent opportunity for the growing community of organic farmers in the province to gain an insight into the forthcoming national regulations,” said workshop participant Colette Urban, a new entrant who produces a small crop of vegetables organically on the west coast of the island.
“The organic standards are the backbone of the certification process,” said participant Mark Wilson, NL’s only organic inspector. “Third party inspectors verify that farms are following the standards and doing what they say they’re doing.”
The St. John’s workshop was co-hosted by Dept. of Natural Resources and ACORN-NL.
ACORN-NL (of which the Rabinowitz’s, Tobin, Urban and Wilson are members) is a committee of the Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network, a not-for-profit organization established in 2000 to enhance the viability and growth of the Atlantic Canadian organic agricultural community through a unified regional network.

ACORN-NL’s growing membership includes certified and non-certified organic farmers, new entrants, apprentices, food activists and organizations interested in local/food security issues.

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About ACORN: The Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network is a not-for-profit organization established in 2000. It aims to enhance the viability and growth of the Atlantic Canadian organic agricultural community through a unified regional network.

About ACORN-NL: In April 2008, ACORN established a working committee in Newfoundland and Labrador. Membership includes experienced and aspiring farmers, processors, retailers, consumers, food activists among others. The goal of ACORN-NL is to promote organic agriculture in the province. Activities to date have included a multi-presenter organic workshop, organic farm visits/talks, the participation of NL producers at the 2009 ACORN conference in Nova Scotia, and member participation in a Canadian Organic Growers’ workshop on the soon-to-be implemented national organic standards. The committee has the support of the Department of Natural Resources to move the priorities of the committee ahead. For more information, visit ACORN website: http://www.acornorganic.org

About Canadian Organic Growers: National membership-based education and networking organization representing farmers, gardeners, consumers and supporters in all provinces and territories.

For more information, contact:

Beth McMahon
Executive Director, ACORN
1-866-322-2676
admin@acornorganic.org

Alison Dyer
Coordinator (P/T), ACORN-NL
709-576-1312
acorn-nl@acornorganic.org