OFRF Wraps Up a Successful 2017 OARS


OFRF welcomed 90 farmers, researchers, and students from around the world to the Organic Agriculture Research Symposium in Kentucky on January 25-26, for presentations and discussion on organic agriculture topics ranging from soil health and pest management to social science and organic transition.

In one of the first presentations, A New Approach for Successful Organic Peach Production, Jaine Allran from Clemson University presented some very positive results from their first harvest using fruit bags to protect peaches from disease and pests. This new method is aimed at increasing the economic opportunity for fruit farmers in the southeast and reducing reliance on pesticides. The project was partially funded through a grant from OFRF in 2016. The presentation was one of four in a session focused on pest management.

Garry Stephenson, Lauren Gwin, and Deanna Lloyd from Oregon State University joined Chris Schreiner and Sarah Brown from Oregon Tilth for the final presentation of the symposium, Motivations and Obstacles for Farmer Transition to Organic Farming: United States and Oregon Studies. Their studies explore the challenges farmers face when considering the transition to organic agriculture, and why there is a lag in the growth of certified organic farmland even though the demand in the U.S. for organic products has had double-digit growth almost every year since the implementation of the National Organic Program in 2001.

View the program and abstracts here.

During the poster session, ten researchers from around the U.S presented on a variety of topics. The poster session and discussion following the symposium allowed time for participants to network and share ideas.

OFRF provided twenty scholarships to help with travel costs. We will be posting feedback from our scholarship recipients in the coming weeks. Some early feedback from Aspen Hattabaugh at University of Georgia, Department of Crop and Soils, Sustainable Ag. Lab:

“The presentations spanned a wide range of topics pertaining to organic and sustainable agriculture, which was great, because I learned quite a bit of new information over my two days in attendance. It was also pretty neat to have such a mixture of professionals and students together. I met people who worked for extensions, who were new to farming, who were fellow grad students focusing on different areas of research, and who were professional researchers. It’s fascinating to see various research projects and ideas and the progress different people have made in their respective fields! It can be easy to find yourself “stuck” in a niche of whatever branch of Ag science you specialize in, but conferences like this pull everyone from their different branches of research together to see the whole picture. The scholarship offered made it easy to attend and present research, which is wonderful for graduate students like myself. Thank you for the opportunity to attend this symposium.”

Thanks to OFRF’s Research Program Director, Dianna Jerkins, Research Program Associate, Joanna Ory, and Brian Baker from Cornell University for putting together another successful OARS. Special thanks to Sarah Underhill for all her assistance on-site.

We’d also like to thank the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group for their support of this event and all of our generous sponsors.