Organic Food

COABC Conference & AGM 2008 February 29 - March 2, 2008

Link to Fresh Voices Contest

Join us for the 2008 COABC
Mary Winspear Centre at Sanscha,
2243 Beacon Ave., Sidney, B.C.

Conference/AGM Home Page

Event Timetable (pdf)

Friday Forum

5:30-7:00 pm

Forum on Food Safety Regulations: Various speakers will explain the impetus and intention for creating the Food Safety Act and Regulations. They will clarify what other commodities will become regulated, and identify the pertinent overseeing agencies. There will be a short Q & A period followed by breakout groups to feed back thoughts to the entire body. Peter Johnston (bio) is the facilitator.

Event Timetable (pdf)

Repeated Workshops (both Saturday & Sunday)

Farmer Stretch     7:15 - 8:00
Roll out of bed and join Mary Jane Collins (bio) and the crew in a morning wakeup stretch. The session features gentle movement and stretching with elements from yoga and qigong.
Relax your body, clear your mind and get set for a stimulating day at the conference!  

VO/CC/Admin Roundtable   7:30 - 9:00
Want to discuss the 2008 inspection session, benefits of standardize forms, new certification requirements, or are just seeking standard clarification and you are a VO, a Certification Committee member or a Certification Administrator, join Rochelle Eisen (bio) in these roundtable discussions.

Event Timetable (pdf)

Saturday Shades of Green Plenary

9:00-10:00 am

The plenary session will feature the diverse viewpoints of an agroecological academic and a small-scale farmer to examine the role of organic agriculture in a quickly warming world, and to propose ways in which organic farmers can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Chad Kruger (bio), with the Washington State University will speak to the strengths and weaknesses of organic agriculture's contribution to fighting climate change. Peter Johnston (bio) will share his perspective as farmer striving to work in a truly sustainable way. Facilitator: Samuel Godfrey (bio).

Event Timetable (pdf)

Saturday Workshops

10:30 - 12:00

10:30 - 12:00

Gardens of Destiny:
This documentary takes us to Salt Spring Island to visit Dan Jason’s garden and seed world. The film also explores many important issues related to pollution and health. Speaker: Jocelyn Demers (bio)

Securing Farmland for Local Food Production: Farm Folk/Folk and TLC’s joint Community Farms Program is planning to help new farmers access affordable land, through collective ownership. Heather Pritchard (bio) (FF/CF), Ramona Scott (bio) (TLC) and Jason Found (bio) (project coordinator) will explain the plan and their vision for a solid working network of potential farmers, landowners, and community organizations.

Is Organic Better? Controversy surrounding the nutritional quality of organic produce continues. Elietha Bocskei (bio) a registered Dietitian/Nutritionist will give us an overview of recent scientific studies in this area.

Farm Energy: More effective use of “energy” could help any farm’s bottom line. This can be done by generating power or reducing operating costs by using more efficient equipment and systems. During this session Aaron Burt (bio) will review options and introduce opportunities.

1:30 - 3:00

1:30 - 3:00

Farm Animal Welfare Strategies:
This workshop lead by Anne Malleau (bio) the Director of Research and Education for the Animal Compassion Foundation, will explore animal welfare issues on organic farms, and what farmers can do to integrate strategies into the day-to-day management of their farm to help address these issues.

Predator, Pollinator, Parasite: Learn how your farm practices can better manage predators and parasites while attracting pollinators from Deborah Henderson (bio), a well known IPM consultant and now the Director of the Institute for Sustainable Horticulture at Kwantlen University College.

Recent Research: Don’t have time to read scientific journals? Don’t have time to decipher them either? Art Bomke (bio) (UBC), Gary Jones (bio) (Kwantlen) & Derek Lynch (bio) (OACC) give an update on their own and other research pertinent to organic farming and production.

Developing Your Farm Business: Organic market gardening/farming is one of the most complex and challenging careers one could have. The aim of this workshop led by Mary Alice Johnson (bio) and Tina Fraser (bio) (farmers and agri-educators extraordinaire) is to enhance your income-generating enterprise through: exploring productive operating systems demonstrating high yield growing techniques; and developing clear management tools, such as business plans.

3:30 - 5:00

3:30 - 5:00

All across North America grows a wonderful bounty of local, seasonal and tasty food. Join film maker Craig Noble on his culinary expedition in search of the people, places and taste of North American small-scale, local food production.

Labels - Basic and Organic: So many requirements, so little time. AND labels cost so much to reprint! COABC's Sarah Davidson (bio) and Claire Sharpe (bio) from CFIA will cover both Canadian government and COABC labeling requirements; requirements for organic labels for products sold in US and Quebec; and give an update on what we know and what we don’t know about upcoming National requirements.

Putting Healthy BC Food Back into Our Schools: The BC School Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (BC SFVSP) will deliver over one million pieces of BC fruit and vegetables every serving week to all schools across BC. Brent Warner (bio) from BCMAL will describe the program and how this infusion of fresh BC produce into BC schools is an opportunity for all local growers to build partnerships in their communities.

Starting Your Organic Farm:  So, you’ve decided to follow your dream and become an organic farmer – wonderful! Now, how do you go about making it happen? This workshop will explore ways you can turn your dream into your reality.  Speaker: Robin Tunnicliffe (bio)

5:00 - 6:30

National Standards Update: Ken Bruce (bio) from the Canadian Organic Office, Stephanie Wells (bio) (Organic Federation Canada), plus Linda Edwards (bio), Paddy Doherty (bio), Anne Macey (bio), and Rochelle Eisen (bio) will update us on the Regulation & Standards coming into effect Dec 2008.

Event Timetable (pdf)

Sunday Fresh Voices Plenary

9:00-10:00 am

Hear the winners of COABC's "Fresh Voices" contest. The contest's aim was to solicit new ideas to help COABC meet its mandate of "a strong and sustainable community, serving the evolving needs of the sector and the public for generations to come." Submissions were to address the entrant's vision of how truly sustainable organic production and marketing systems would improve profitability, stewardship of the land and water, and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities.

Contest Winners


First place: Jordan Marr (bio) (essay)
Second place: Robin Wheeler (bio) (essay)
Third place: Heather Stretch (bio) (essay)


First place: Gabriel Forbes (bio) (essay)
Second place: Melanie Sylvestre (bio) (essay)
Third place: John Ehrlich (bio) (essay)

Event Timetable (pdf)

Sunday Workshops

10:30 - 12:30


Trends to Local - Getting Past the Hype:
BCMAL’s Industry Specialist/Economist Don Low (bio) will present what producers need to understand when considering local markets, particularly with respect to the economic sustainability issues of local or regional food production. Cranberry grower George Hamilton (bio) of Hamilton Farms from Courtenay and Mark Robbins (bio) a Fraser Valley pasture poultry producer will add their perspective on marketing into various markets. 

1:30 - 3:00

1:30 - 3:00

Microorganisms - the Good, the Bad and the Balance: This workshop will give us an appreciation for the work of beneficial indigenous microorganisms, effective microorganisms and organisms in general. Slides, samples and anecdotal evidence will be given and handouts of various “recipes” will be available. Speakers: Karl Hann (bio), Mary Alice Johnson (bio)

Farm Machinery Maintenance: Mike Balderston (bio) knows his way around farm equipment and is Haliburton Farm’s tractor service person. Mike also does the plowing, rototilling and grass cutting at Haliburton. In this hands-on workshop, Mike will share his knowledge and experience.

1:30 - 3:00


Green Seeds and Red Fife: a five star/seed idea to add “value” to locally grown crop varieties. Hear Sharon Rempel (bio) explain how we can capitalize on the success of Red Fife wheat and the 100 Mile Diet to add cultural, taste and other values to locally grown crops. Sharon is the founder of Seedy Saturday and the Bread and Wheat Festival.



Farm tour of Haliburton Farm: Haliburton Community Organic Farm Society’s Tina Fraser (bio) takes us on a tour of this non-profit, education focused, co-operatively managed farm.  

Event Timetable (pdf)

Post Conference Workshops

A non COABC event but worthy of mention

Growing local organic wheat for specialty markets

Date: Monday March 3, 2008

Location: 2nd floor, Shoal Center, 10030 Resthaven Drive, Sidney, B.C. 

Time: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm    

11:45- 12:45 lunch break (you can order a lunch for $9 from the Shoal Center, bring your own or eat in one of the many small eateries around the area)

Cost:  $50 per person. Send a cheque payable to Sharon Rempel to 3741 Metchosin Road, Victoria, B.C. V9C 4A8.  Workshop limited to 25 people.

Presenter: Sharon Rempel. Sharon Rempel has had her hands in heritage wheat fields and the grassroot organic sector for two decades. She's the founder of 'Seedy Saturday' and the 'Bread and Wheat Festival' and is a cultural and agricultural historian. Check her out at

Workshop: The 100 mile diet identified a problem finding wheat within 100 miles of Vancouver. 'Red Fife' heritage wheat was mentioned in the book and 'Red Fife' has become popular thanks to the Slow Food nomination to the Ark of Taste. ‘Red Fife’ is not the ideal wheat for all locations; there are a diversity of wheats to consider. Locally grown wheat can provide the grower with a good return both seed wise and financially.

The workshop is an opportunity for organic farmers and other interested parties to explore the basics of planning, producing and marketing locally produced wheat for specialty markets. This will include a discussion about matching varieties to local growing conditions, equipment requirements, seed storage basics and sourcing seed.

This is a post conference workshop for the COABC annual meeting being held in Sidney Feb. 28, March 1 and 2.

Additional educational opportunities that weekend:    Sharon is speaking at the COABC conference March 2, 2008 presentation (workshop format) 1:30 - 3pm.

"Green Seeds and Red Fife- a five star/seed idea to add 'value' to locally grown crop varieties.’ Capitalizing on the national grassroot success of 'Red Fife' wheat we have opportunities to add cultural, taste and other 'values' to help us profit (in all ways) from the 100 mile diet and conserve agricultural biodiversity in the field.


Event Timetable (pdf)
Workshop Bios

Conference/AGM Home Page

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