We’re coming up on the annual Organic Conference at the University of Guelph, a tradition that’s been around for nearly 40 years, long before “going organic” was a thing. Make no mistake: organic is big business now, a method of food production and farming that in Canada alone is worth $5.4 billion. In Guelph though, the annual Organic Conference is where this trend gets back to its roots. Pun intended.
This week on the podcast, we’re going to talk to Susan Ratz who runs communications and media relations for the Guelph Organic Conference. Based out of the University Centre at the University of Guelph every January, the Conference is one of the biggest and the oldest of its kind in Canada. (If not *the* biggest and oldest.) The very first conference was an afternoon seminar organized by a couple of grad students in 1982, but now four days of activities are organized by a federal non-profit called Organic Food Conferences Canada, which is made up of representatives of 17 public sector, non-profit organic groups.
The Organic Conference attracts producers and consumers. Whether producers have large farms or just a backyard garden, many come for the workshops and seminars that cover a wide variety of topics, from 10 tips on orchard management to perennial vegetables you can grow at home. For consumers, there’s a trade show with over 100 vendors where you can get seeds, supplies, and yes, free samples of organic foods like carrot juice and ice cream. If you’re interested in food or farming, it’s an organic nirvana.
This week on the podcast, we’ll dig into why the Guelph Organic Conference has become a big deal, and what makes it such a unique affair in the big business of organics. We’ll also ask Ratz about the challenges with organizing the conference logistically, and how it balances the needs of being both a trade show for industry insiders while doing outreach to consumers interested in learning more about organics. And finally, we’ll talk about some of the must see items and programming that are part of this year’s conference.
So let’s talk about the world of organics, and Guelph’s landmark role in it, on this week’s edition of the Guelph Politicast!
You can find out more about the Guelph Organic Conference at its website, where you can buy tickets, see the schedule of workshops and events, and get a list of exhibitors. The conference takes place at the University of Guelph University Centre from Thursday January 23 to Sunday January 26.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.