Organic Food
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Certified Organic Association of BC
Friday February 26 to Sunday February 28, 2016
Vernon, BC

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General Information

COABC's Conference provides educational and networking opportunities for new and established farmers, as well as those keen to learn more about the world of organic farming. We have pulled together a diverse selection of presentations focused on our theme of Resilience, as well as a variety of other issues pertinent to the dynamic functioning of a farm operation:

Resilience Sessions will look at issues arising from climate change and the challenges it presents, such as shifting weather patterns, extreme temperatures, and water shortages. Sessions will focus on cultivating climate resilience on your farm, projects with the BC Climate Action Initiative, water harvesting, seed policy roundtable, and regenerative agriculture.

Livestock Sessions will delve into a range of issues such as beekeeping, egg production, establishing a class 'D' slaughter license, and standards interpretation related to animals.

Business Structure & Supports will focus on components of running a business that make a big difference in the success of your season. We will look into SMART business planning, the certification process made easy, an overview of regulation changes at the provincial level, feasibility of starting a hop growing business, and programs for new farmers from Farm Credit Canada.

Technical Information will allow you to get into the nitty gritty details of farm work. We will explore pest management (earwigs and pest pressure related to climate change), beginner seed saving, advanced seed saving for carrots, and standards interpretation for crops, prepared foods, and apiculture.

Land Stewardship will explore the importance of taking care of this land for generations to come through sessions on indigenous food lands, an elders' roundtable, and soil biology.


The Prestige Hotel in Vernon (4411 32 Street) is holding a block of rooms with rates starting at $109.95/day (single/double occupancy) + tax.

To reserve, please call the hotel at (250) 558-5991 or 1-877-737-8443 (be sure to specify Vernon location) and ask for the COABC rate.

Silent Auction

Our silent auction continues to get better and better - you will find an amazing array of items to place your bid on: clothing, art, books, art, food, wine, tools, seeds and so much more. If you would like to donate an auction item, just bring it with you to the conference. Auction items will be displayed from 6 PM Friday evening until bidding closes on Saturday at 9 PM.

Saturday Feast

We are back with Chef Inna this year, and her food was one of the top highlights from the 2013 conference. She has another amazing menu planned, so be prepared to have your socks knocked off with the delectable buffet feast.

Based on feedback from last year's conference, we will be sharing a customized playlist of music after dinner so that the conversations can continue within the larger group space on Saturday night. There will still be room to get up and dance if folks feel inclined, so that won't be lost, just different!

Friday Afternoon Workshop (1 - 4:30 PM)


This year's workshop will satisfy people's craving for more detailed information about soil biology. Join Sean Smukler, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Land and Food Systems at University of British Columbia for his workshop, Managing Soil to Maximize Agroecosystem Resiliency.

In this half-day workshop, participants will learn how to manage soil to improve the resiliency of the agroecosystem through a series of presentations and interactive group work. In the first session of the workshop, participants will be given an overview of soil food web interactions and outcomes. The role of soil organisms from micro to macro fauna will be discussed in the context of resiliency. Participants will gain an understanding of who the organism are, what do they do, and how they interact. Basic physical characteristics of soil and its importance to biota will be presented using examples from the latest scientific research. In the second session, participants will be given an overview of the challenges and options for managing soil in an organic farming system. Participants will learn about the challenges of optimizing nutrient availability to ensure nitrogen and phosphorus are utilized by the crop and not lost to the environment. The role of soil organic matter and strategies to build it will be discussed. Participants will learn about some of the tools and methodologies that are available for planning and assessing soil management. Finally, participants will work in teams to address a variety of soil management challenges. Participants will be divided into small groups and given a unique soil management problem and work together to develop a detailed solution. This will be a hands-on exercise enabling participants to learn from each other and implement the information and tools presented in the previous sessions. Teams will present their problems and solutions for discussion. Participants will walk away from this workshop with a thorough understanding of the belowground ecosystem and some practical tools for managing it.

Space is limited to 30 participants, so be sure to sign up early. Please note that the Friday workshop is separate from the Conference Registration.

Seed Exchange

Come and share seeds with fellow farmers! The COABC Seed Exchange is the perfect place to explore new varieties, share your favourite cultivars, donate the extra seeds you have, and learn about seeds and seed saving from fellow seed producers. The Seed Exchange will be hosted by the B.C. Eco Seed Co-op. This is an opportunity to learn about this new seed producer co-op and share ideas and suggestions with some of the members.

Guidelines to participate in the Seed Exchange:

  • All seeds should be open-pollinated, non-hybrid, non-patented, and GE-Free
  • Bring seeds divided in smaller envelopes -- at least 20-30 seeds per package.
  • Make sure to know the variety/cultivar's name and the scientific name if possible (family, genus, species)
  • Share seed grower's name, location grown, population size, and isolation distance.
  • When possible, share the # days to harvest, planting guidelines, original seed source, and year purchased.
  • Finally, feel free to share the story of the seed!

Young Agrarians Mini-Mixer

Young Agrarians is a network for new and young ecological farmers in BC that organizes events, landlinks and business mentorship. Come to a social meet-up at COABC and meet other awesome agrarians. Connect, make new contacts- have fun! Light refreshments will be sponsored by Rancho Vignola & Cooling.

Young Agrarians specializes in networking up farmers. Join us for a social mixer: find out who is in the room, doing what, where. Connect, make some new contacts, and have fun! Light refreshments will be served sponsored by Rancho Vignola & Cooling.


Other Conference Highlights (subject to change)

  • Friday evening reception with beer, wine, and spirits sampling, as well as scrumptious charcuterie platters.
  • Trade show will provide a marketplace of products and ideas to inspire you
  • COABC AGM on Sunday - come and hear about another extraordinarily full year we've had and consider getting involved
  • While the Feast is being staged, you can check out the Seed Exchange, the Young Agrarians Mini-Mixer, or the Hospitality Room

Read BCOG Spring 2020