Intensive: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart? Integrity, Continuous Improvement and Evolution in the Organic Trade


Dag Falck, Nature's Path Foods

Brian Baker, Belcairn Concerns, LLC

Gwendolyn Wyard, Organic Trade Association

Zoe Bradbury, Valley Flora 

Lynn Coody, Organic Agsystems Consulting

Katherine DiMatteo, Sustainable Food Trade Association

David Lively, Organically Grown Company

Tracy Miedema

“THE ONE INNOVATION that is our legacy to pass on is the idea that local and regionally based and privately owned for-profit businesses can be effective vehicles for large scale social change.  We are not philanthropically funded NGOs.  We are not in the street marchers.  We do not do electoral politics.  We buy things and sell things and provide services to our customers and by doing so we have enabled and facilitated a profound and enduring change in farming.  By doing so, we have demonstrated the effectiveness of an overlooked model of social change.  We must work to ensure that this lesson is not lost on those who come after us.” 

– David Weinstein, organic produce trade pioneer.

 Now, more than 4 decades later, we find that our vision of what could be has not only created a flourishing market for our goods but done so on a scale resulting in the “mainstreaming” of the organic trade. This unfamiliar position has spawned increasingly contentious debates about what is “truly” organic, what responsibility organic has to “evolve” (or not) in order to help address numerous global crises that may be aggravated or abated by agricultural practice, and who should be carrying the organic flag into the future. Many of the visionaries and early entrepreneurs are no longer active participants, many iconic businesses and brands have been acquired and their voices diminished, and there is a sense of uncertainty and even despair in some circles related to how to proceed. 

 In this intensive, we will look at IFOAM’s “Organic 3.0” and the OTA’s “Bold Steps” as potential guides for navigating the challenges now before us, and the “Middle Path”, developed by Organic Agsystems Consulting and Organically Grown Company staff as a process for deliberating options with the requirement that they provide open paths to continuous improvement through “relentless but patient” progress. 

Want to participate in shaping the future of the organic sector?  Want to learn how to break-down complex situations and find pragmatic, workable solutions?  Want to develop your management and problem-solving skills?  Then this is the intensive workshop for you!  Be prepared to be engaged!

Speaker Bios

Brian Baker is President of the North American Regional Group of IFOAM—Organics International (IFOAM NA). Dr. Baker is a researcher, consultant and educator who has worked in organic agriculture since 1983. His clients include universities, government agencies, private institutes, and various businesses. He was a founder of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and a pioneer of organic certification for California Certified Organic Farmers. He is a past member of the IFOAM Standards Committee, Principles of Organic Agriculture Task Force, and the Sustainable Organic Agriculture Action Network that was involved in the development of Organic 3.0. He is currently vice-chair of the Technology Innovation Platform of IFOAM. Brian grew up on a small family farm in Western New York. His Ph.D. is from Cornell University, and he has also taught college classes on organic agriculture.

Zoë Bradbury operates Valley Flora a diversified fresh market farm nestled along the banks of Floras Creek on the southcoast of Oregon. With her mom and sister, a fantastic crew, and a team of draft horses, she has been cultivating vegetables, berries, flowers, herbs and orchard fruits for local coastal markets since 2008.

Lynn Coody has been an active participant in the organic industry since 1974, serving in many leadership positions in her home state of Oregon, nationally with the Organic Trade Association and the National Organic Coalition, and internationally with IFOAM. She is proud to have been a founder of, and active contributor to, Oregon Tilth, Organic Materials Institute, and Oregon Organic Coalition.  In 1982, Lynn established Organic Agsystems Consulting, a firm that provides technical assistance to producers and regulatory agencies in the organic food trade. In recent years, many of her consulting projects have focused on assisting domestic and international certifiers with compliance with the accreditation requirements of the USDA's National Organic Program. A notable highlight has been her work as a visiting professor at the Institute of Mediterranean Agriculture for 15 years, where she taught a short course on organic regulation and oversight to students working toward their a Masters degree in Organic Agriculture. Her current activity focuses on the Organic Produce Wholesalers Coalition where she serves as Senior Policy Analyst, providing analysis and recommendations about issues before the National Organic Standards Board.

Katherine DiMatteo (Moderator) is the executive director of the Sustainable Food Trade Association since November 2013. In addition, DiMatteo continues as a managing partner at Wolf, DiMatteo + Associates, a consulting firm whose specialists deliver effective strategies to help organic products and businesses grow. Formerly the executive director of the Organic Trade Association from 1990 to 2006, she was instrumental in shaping the outcome of the U.S. National Organic Program standards and the U.N. Codex Guidelines for organically produced foods. DiMatteo has served as the president of IFOAM-Organics International Board of Directors, is a founding member of The Organic Center’s Board of Directors, and currently serves on the Fairtrade America Board of Directors. 

Dag Falk is president of COTA (Canada Organic Trade Association) and a board member of IFOAM NA.Working with Nature’s Path Foods Inc. since 2003 has afforded him the opportunity to work intimately with many aspects of the organic movement such as regulations, enforcement, supply and customer interactions.  Prior to coming to Nature’s Path he was an independent organic inspector for 14 years, auditing all types of farms and processing facilities.

David Lively (Moderator) has been engaged in the organic foods movement since 1973, and professionally since 1983, in roles ranging from eater to farmer to Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Organically Grown Company.  He was a co-founder of Organically Grown Company, the Sustainable Food Trade Association and Organicology.  He has served on the boards of OGC, Oregon Tilth, SFTA, the Oregon Organic Coalition, Organic Seed Alliance, and currently the Organic Trade Association. 

Tracy Miedema is the VP of Innovation & Brand Development at Presence, the nation’s leading natural products broker, where she oversees the company’s two investment portfolios.  Growing up in the Pacific Northwest and with family roots in the Deep South, gardening, gathering, hunting and preserving real food shaped her basic food philosophy: know where your food comes from, prepare it with care and enjoy time around the table.  Since 2012, Tracy has led graduate student teams in product innovation at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.  Tracy holds a BA from the University of Washington and an MBA from Western Washington University.  She is lives with her family in rural Oregon.

Gwendolyn Wyard has been actively working in the organic industry for over 20 years. She serves as the Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association (OTA) where she works on the development of policy strategy through regulatory engagement in the interest of OTA’s mission and its members. Prior to OTA Gwendolyn worked for Oregon Tilth where she served as the Technical Specialist specializing in policy analysis and technical review of materials for use in organic products. She holds a degree in Food Science with a Fermentation Science Option and a minor in Chemistry. Gwendolyn completed her certificate as an independent farm and processing inspector through the International Organic Inspector’s Association (IOIA) in 1997 and has subcontracted for multiple certifiers inspecting a diverse range of operations. She also serves on board for the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and is an Advisory Council member for the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). In her free time, Gwendolyn loves to make and eat fermented foods, take long bike rides, paddle her kayak and grub around in the soil.