Challenging the Empire: Forming a Rebel Alliance

Growing the Organic Market

Friday, February 3

 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


The organic sector is faced with enormous opportunities and daunting challenges and of galactic proportions. We see a situation where demand continues to outstrip supply, yet a continued resistance to growing the organic market. Monopoly power in the food and farm supply sector creates barriers to transition and the adoption of organic practices.

The session will be a think tank to brainstorm different ways to enable the organic sector to be more competitive with conventional agriculture and the industrial giants that dominate the food and farm market, and stifle the adoption of organic methods. What has happened in the organic sector is reflective of the concentration of corporate power in the food sector and in the economy in general—the ‘Empire’ if you will. The workshop will approach the subject of how to reclaim the organic sector and maintain its integrity, while at the same time being economically robust, providing consumers access to organic food at a fair price, and maintaining a decent standard of living for all who work in the organic sector.

Based on questions presented by the facilitator, panelists will briefly discuss strategies, business models, and tactics for organic to maintain its integrity, remain competitive and provide a decent living to those who work in it. From these different perspectives, we will look at how organic farming went from a movement to an industry, how as an industry it became a takeover target by the very entities the movement sought to displace, and, most importantly, how we can get back at least some of what we lost, while maintaining the gains we’ve made by becoming mainstream. Cooperative, public benefit, and community supported business models offer a way to compete with corporate giants that exist solely for the purpose of maximizing returns for their owners, without regard to the values, ethics, and norms of the organic community.

Most of the time will be reserved for audience participation, with innovative ideas encouraged to be brought forward. Audience members are encouraged to participate and continue the dialogue beyond the conference. The workshop is intended to lead to action in the form of strategic alliances and networks that will be able to play a significant economic role in the organic community.

Speakers: Annie Moss, Owner, Seastar Bakery; Brian Baker, Founder, Belcairn Concerns; David Weinstein, Head Buyer, Heath & Lejeune; Steve Pavich, President, North American Sales BioFlora; Steve Peters, Founder, Seed Revolution Now!/Seed Expert, Organic Seed Alliance; Theresa Marquez, Mission Executive, Organic Valley