Organic Advocate and Farmer Jim Riddle to Address Ohio’s Largest Sustainable Food and Farm Conference
The need for personal, societal, and political transformation in our food and farm system and the challenge of growing organic agriculture with integrity to meet consumer demand will be the focus of a keynote address by farmer and activist Jim Riddle at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s (OEFFA) 38th annual conference, Growing Today, Transforming Tomorrow, this February in Dayton, Ohio.
In his February 10 keynote address, “Transform Organic Today, Grow with Integrity Tomorrow,” Riddle will explore the environmental and health problems associated with our current food system, the need for farmers and citizens to engage in organic policy issues, and solutions for change.
“I would like to see organic agriculture elevated to a high priority, fully integrated into long-term U.S. agricultural policy, recognizing the multiple benefits of environmental protection, climate change mitigation, food security, nutrition, health, biodiversity, and sustainable farm income,” Riddle told Natural Foods Merchandiser.
For more than 30 years, Riddle has been an organic farmer, inspector, educator, policy analyst, and activist.
From 2001 to 2006, Riddle served on the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Organic Standards Board, chairing the board from 2004 to 2005. In the years since, he has remained engaged on organic issues and GMO labeling, calling for attention to process, transparency, and integrity.
He is founding chair of the thriving Winona Farmers’ Market and the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA), and has served on the leadership team for eOrganic and on the boards of the International Organic Accreditation Service, Beyond Pesticides, and the Organic Processing Institute.
He served on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Task Force from 1991 to 2009, and was instrumental in passing Minnesota’s landmark organic certification cost-share program in 1998 and a national organic certification cost-share program in 2002. From 2006 to 2013, he worked for the University of Minnesota Southwest Research and Outreach Center as Organic Outreach Coordinator.
From 2013 to 2016, Riddle coordinated organic research grant programs for the Ceres Trust. He has recently been appointed to chair the Minnesota Organic Advisory Task Force, which provides advice to the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the University of Minnesota. He and his wife also own and operate Blue Fruit Farm, a five acre fruit farm in southeastern Minnesota growing certified organic blueberries, elderberries, aronia berries, black currants, blue plums, honeyberries, and juneberries. The farm is part of a 360 acre organically-managed land cooperative.
“We’ve always tried to produce good, healthy food, educate and empower others to do the same, make sure that the word “organic” has meaning, and protect the beautiful planet that we’re lucky to live on,” Riddle told the Houston County News in 2013.
On February 9, Riddle will facilitate a full-day, pre-conference intensive workshop, titled, “Respect Your Elderberries: Growing and Selling Niche Fruit Crops from Aronia to Service Berries.”
He will also lead two 90 minute workshops as part of the conference: “Getting Started with Blue Fruits” on February 10 and “An Agenda for Organic America” on February 11.
“We’re excited to welcome Jim to this year’s conference, now in our new home in Dayton. He has been a leader in the organic movement and a knowledgeable, vocal advocate for strong and transparent standards for decades,” said OEFFA Program Director Renee Hunt.
Riddle will speak as part of the Ohio’s largest sustainable food and farm conference, which will run Thursday, February 9 through Saturday, February 11 at the Dayton Convention Center.
In addition to Riddle, this year’s conference will feature keynote speaker Robyn O’Brien on February 11; nearly 80 educational workshops; four pre-conference intensive workshops on February 9; a three-day trade show; networking events; activities for children and teens; locally-sourced meals; a raffle; book sales and signings, and more.
For more information about the conference, or to register, go to www.oeffa.org/conference2017.