By Haley Baron, Education and Research Program Associate

September 24, 2019 – On September 18th and 19th, I had the privilege of joining CCOF staff and 13 other stakeholders at Paicines Ranch in Paicines, CA to discuss policy recommendations that will help build an organic California. Through facilitated discussion over the two days, we shared our perspectives on CCOF’s proposed policy initiatives and learned about one another across sectors. Our group was made up of farmers, social justice advocates, academics, legislators, agency staff, and leaders of membership organizations. The goal of the gathering was for CCOF to hear our opinions, experiences, and priorities before moving forward with future policy initiatives.

The event began on Wednesday afternoon with a farm tour of the majestic Paicines Ranch by Sallie Calhoun, owner of Paicines Ranch. We walked the grounds and learned about the innovative ways they are farming and ranching. Their mission is to find creative techniques to build healthy soils through certified organic rangeland, row crops, and vineyards. After the tour, we came together for a beautiful outdoor dinner to get to know one another before starting our big day of discussions.

On the second day, we were ready to get to work. The policies we discussed looked at how to solve a number of pressing issues that California faces—pesticide usage near schools, land preservation, beginner organic farmer support, organic research and training funding, and much more. Despite our diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives, we came together as a group to find common ground and think through our differences.

It was an inspiring two days of sharing in a community that rarely has the opportunity to meet. Thank you to CCOF for putting in the time and effort to create space to truly hear the opinions of others. Our gathering proved that the more you work with those around you, the more likely the success of positive policy change.