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Join Us for the 2020 Organic Agriculture Research Forum

Graphic from the Organic Agriculture Research Forum flyer announcing the Jan 23, 2020 forum in Little RockOctober 15, 2019 – OFRF and Tuskegee University are pleased to announce the 2020 Organic Agriculture Research Forum (OARF) to be presented in partnership with the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG). The Forum takes place on Thursday, January 23, 2020 in Little Rock, Arkansas, as part of the 2020 SSAWG Conference.

Farmers, students, and researchers who would like to apply for a scholarship of up to $600 to attend the forum should fill out the scholarship application no later than November 22nd, 2019.

The day-long forum will bring together scientists, organic farmers and ranchers, extension agents, non-profit organizations, and more to explore the latest research and science-based grower education, particularly as it relates to production in the southeast. Topics will range from assessing the impact of organic agriculture on climate change, to soil health, and pest and disease management.

The forum will feature many opportunities to learn from fellow attendees and presenters, beginning with oral presentations focused on research that addresses production, economic, and social challenges in organic farming and ranching. After the presentations, there will be a series of facilitated roundtable discussions, followed by a poster session and reception held in conjunction with SSAWG. The poster session will include a “People’s Choice” award and an award for “Best Research Poster” juried by a small panel of judges. Voting will take place during the Thursday evening reception.

The conference and scholarships are supported by Ceres Trust and the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant no. 2019-51300-30250 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.

Southern SAWG facilitates the development of a more sustainable food and agriculture systems across 13 states in the Southern U.S. Since 1992 they have provided high quality educational materials and training opportunities on sustainable and organic production, marketing strategies, farm management, and community food systems development. Each year the Southern SAWG Conference brings together over 1,000 farmers, researchers, educators, and others in the sustainable agriculture field to share practical tools and information and strengthen their working relationships. The 2020 Southern SAWG conference will take place in Little Rock, Arkansas on January 22-25, 2020.

Tuskegee University has initiated an organic farming program for over 10 years to educate Alabama residents on the health benefits of organic vegetables. The program has grown in recent years to include site specific organic farming research on various vegetable crop varieties and integrated pest management throughout the Southern United States to provide recommendations to organic growers. Dr. Kpomblekou-A has served as director of the program at Tuskegee University since 2016.


Haley Baron, OFRF Education & Research Program Associate

Lauren Snyder, OFRF Education & Research Program Associate

By |2020-01-08T18:12:21+00:00October 15th, 2019|Press Release|

OFRF is Turning 30! Save the Date!

October 9, 2019 – We’re celebrating a very significant milestone at our annual benefit luncheon at Expo West and we want you to join us! This must-attend event for organic industry leaders, market innovators, and brand-conscious consumers is the ideal place to network before the big show, and the all-organic lunch is always amazing!

Sponsorships are available now.

Individual tickets go on sale December 1, 2019.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:21+00:00October 9th, 2019|News|

Vicki Lowell

Communications Manager

Vicki joined OFRF in October 2015 after five years working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County. At the food bank, she was responsible for sharing stories of people in need and the individuals, schools, businesses and non-profits that work to ensure everyone has access to healthy food and resources to help them get back on their feet.

As Communications Manager, she is responsible for disseminating relevant content across all channels and helping farmers access tools and resources that support their success. She is responsible for design and production of research reports, webinars, and educational materials, and works to increase outreach and nurture collaborative relationships with organic stakeholders.

Vicki began her career as a member of the Macintosh introduction team at Apple Computer in 1984 and spent a number of years working as an independent marketing writer. She is passionate about music and food and also works as a deejay at KPIG, a free-form Americana station broadcast from Freedom, California and streamed worldwide.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:21+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Sheila Golden

Program and Grants Manager

Sheila Golden brings over ten years of program development and management experience from sustainable agriculture non-profits and UC Cooperative Extension. She leads OFRF’s grant-writing process and supports staff with program planning and implementation. She has a MS from UC Davis in Community and Regional Development.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:21+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Michael Stein

Policy Advisor

Michael Stein is an attorney and scientist who is passionate about organic and sustainable agriculture. He has focused his career on implementing legal and policy tools to address the environmental, health, and economic impacts of our food system.

Michael has worked extensively on food law and policy issues. He first started working to protect the health and wealth of our natural resources with Midwest Environmental Advocates, assisting family farmers in protecting their homes and communities from the negative environmental impacts of large-scale industrial agriculture. While at Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, he focused on the environmental and public health impacts of food waste, and also worked to address food sovereignty issues faced by Native American communities. His policy experience includes working with the Navajo Nation’s Washington, D.C. office, and managing the food campaigns at Green America.

Michael holds a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he focused on environmental law. He also earned an M.S. in environment and resources from the University of Wisconsin’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, with a focus on sustainable agriculture. Michael is currently based in Washington, D.C. where he advocates on behalf of organic farmers and organic agriculture to members of Congress and the federal government.

When not in D.C., Michael can be found hiking the hills of Virginia and procuring delicious products from local organic farms.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:21+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Mark Schonbeck

Research Program Associate

Mark Schonbeck has worked for 31 years as a researcher, consultant, and educator in sustainable and organic agriculture. He has participated in on-farm research into mulching, cover crops, minimum tillage, and nutrient management for organic vegetables. For many years, he has written for the Virginia Association for Biological Farming newsletter and served as their policy liaison to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. He has also participated in different research projects to analyze, evaluate and improve federally funded organic and sustainable agriculture programs. In addition, Mark offers individual consulting in soil test interpretation, soil quality and nutrient management, crop rotation, cover cropping, and weed management.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:21+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Lola Dannehl-Schickman

Development and Partnerships Manager

Lola grew up in a family where politics and activism were a part of daily life. She believes we must come together as a nation to support our organic farmers, protect our environment and ensure healthy, organic food is accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Lola graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2012 with BA in American Studies. She worked in fundraising and communication for a non-profit school in Oakland for four years before attending graduate school at Cambridge University where she received her MPhil in American literature. Lola is excited to be joining the stellar team at OFRF where she will have the opportunity to fuse her passion for political activism and sustainable, organic agriculture.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:22+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Lauren Snyder

Education and Research Program Manager

Lauren is a scientist dedicated to promoting organic agriculture and developing sustainable food systems. She discovered her passion for agroecology as an undergraduate at Boston University where she collaborated on a research project evaluating the ecosystem services provided by bats in organic pecan orchards. It was here that she became curious about where our food comes from and how agricultural production practices affect the environment and human health.

Since then, she has conducted research around the globe, working with small-holder farmers in Sri Lanka, Kenya, and the U.S. Throughout her PhD., she worked closely with local organic farmers in NY State to design applied research evaluating the environmental, nutritional, and economic outcomes of diversified agricultural practices. A primary objective was to evaluate the potential for crop varietal mixtures to mitigate the need for pesticides by increasing natural pest control services and maximize growers’ profits by reducing production costs associated with mixed species plantings.

Lauren holds a B.A. in Ecology & Conservation Biology from Boston University and is completing her PhD. in agroecology and sustainable food systems from Cornell University. She is excited to join an incredible team committed to improving our nation’s food system, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to advance organic practices through research and education.

In her free time, Lauren loves enjoying the outdoors with her partner and their dog, cooking delicious food for friends and family, and dancing salsa.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:22+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Haley Baron

Education and Research Program Associate

Haley has worked across the food system for over a decade, first developing her love and passion for food and social justice while growing up in San Francisco. She has worked on a variety of anti-hunger and food access programs, farmed certified organic land, sold and bought local produce, and managed large-scale program evaluations. She has spent the last seven years working on and learning about the complexities of the food system so that she can help build a more just and sustainable world.

Along with her work for OFRF, she also oversees operations and city staff for pineapple collaborative, a community for women who love food. She has a Master’s in Food Studies from New York University, where she focused on sustainable food systems and the organic supply chain, a B.A. in Sociology and Spanish from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition. In her free time, Haley is usually traipsing around local farms, exploring new hikes, eating dumplings, and cooking with lots of vegetables.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:22+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Diana Jerkins

Senior Science Advisor

Dr. Jerkins brings to OFRF decades of experience in agricultural research, federal program management, university administration and hands-on farming. She was a National Program Leader with the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) between 2002 and 2014, and also helped implement the agency’s first sustainable and organic agriculture programs. Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Jerkins directed the Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.

Dr. Jerkins earned her graduate degrees from the University of Georgia, including an MA in Agronomy, and a PhD in Entomology.

Dr. Jerkins will work remotely while continuing management of her historic, 240-acre organic farm in Gordonsville, VA.

By |2020-01-08T18:12:48+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|
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