ACORN Conference Program

All Workshops

Striking a balance - Philosophy, Principles and Outcomes of Organic vs. Market Development

Monday, November 27, 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM   

Organic agriculture is grounded in the four principles of health, care, fairness and ecology and the Standards are intended to support these principles and achieve their outcomes and impacts that make organic stand out from other production systems.

In a world driven by consumer demand, are the organic principles being compromised to capture that demand? Are the Standards consistent with supporting and promoting organic principles as opposed to enabling businesses to capture the market?  

Four regional perspectives introduce an ongoing discussion throughout the conference about how we achieve the principles and expected outcomes of organic agriculture both locally and globally.  

The discussion will continue in the afternoon. Bring your thought provoking questions to foster conversation at 4:00 pm in the Nova Scotia Room.   

Nova Scotia Room

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Solving the Mystery - Part I: Canadian Organic Standards 101

Monday, November 27, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM   

Do you find Canadian Organic Standards a bit mysterious and complicated? This workshop will provide an overview of the nuts and bolts of the Canadian Organic Regime, how the Organic Products Regulations relates, and the work of the Standards Interpretation Committee. More importantly, we will teach you how to maneuver through the Standards with confidence. Important sections will be pulled out and discussed, such as Section 4 on the organic plan and resulting requirements of record keeping. Whether you are a seasoned organic operator or a new entrant, you'll leave with a better understanding of how all these components work together, and their impact on your practices! There will be time for Q & A at the end.

Beginner
Nova Scotia Room

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Cultivating Justice: Recognizing and Respecting the Contributions of Migrant Farmworkers

Monday, November 27, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM   

This workshop will focus on the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) and on the struggles faced by migrant farmworkers who participate in it. It will include a comprehensive look at conditions reported by participants, and also examine systemic inequities such as ineligibility for regular EI benefits and the absence of a pathway to permanent residency. The workshop will also address how the organic farming industry is excellently situated to raise its voice in solidarity with SAWP participants, and how it can benefit from a more just and inclusive system. 

All Levels
Ballroom C

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Canada’s Seed Regulations: What do Vegetable Seed Producers Need to Know?

Monday, November 27, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM   

This workshop will address various Canadian regulations that affect seed producers, including topics like germination rate and weed count, labelling, and the various gradings available in Canada. A must for those who are selling (or thinking about selling) seed, this workshop will demystify the regulations for small and medium-sized seed producers and companies.

Intermediate
MacDonald Room

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Growing Your Farmers’ Market-based Business: A How-To

Monday, November 27, 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM   

Market-business owner Jessie Palmer will offer guidance on how to derive a livelihood from your small business, seize and craft opportunities, and hustle your product.

Beginner
MacLeod Room

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Selling Tactics for the Farmers’ Market

Monday, November 27, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM   

From loyalty programs to "up-selling", we'll dig into the selling tips and tactics worth implementing at your market stand.

Intermediate
MacLeod Room

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  • TBA

Fostering Farming Opportunities for New Canadians in the Maritimes

Monday, November 27, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM   

Many newcomers to Canada have farming backgrounds and a great interest in growing food for their communities. Many Maritime farms are experiencing a shortage in skilled labour and see opportunities in growing food for ethnic markets. How can we bridge this gap, foster better relationships, and grow more healthy food for our communities? This session will be a discussion of the barriers and opportunities to connect existing organic growers to Newcomers with farming backgrounds.

All Levels
Ballroom C

This workshop is supported in-kind by Common Roots Urban Farm and Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia

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Quality Assurance Practices for Vegetable Seed Crops

Monday, November 27, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM   

This session will provide an overview of the various tools and practices available to seed producers and seed companies to offer quality seeds. Germination rate is only one of many aspects of seed quality. This workshop will cover the topics of assessing vigour, record keeping, seed lot cleaning, and storage for increasing seed lifespan. Practices in the field and pre-processing will be addressed.

All Levels
MacDonald Room

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Solving the Mystery - Part II: Permitted Substances & Certification Process

Monday, November 27, 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM   

Prohibition is a prevalent theme in the organic system. The Permitted Substances List (PSL) can be intimidating, but a very important tool. Learn what questions to ask and how to comfortably navigate this resource. We'll conclude with the certification process. How do you choose a certifying body (CB)? What are some of the important questions to ask when you first establish a relationship with a CB? How do you prepare for inspection, and what should you expect? Let us help you get started on your organic journey!

Beginner
Nova Scotia Room

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COG Focus Group: Understanding the Transition to Organic

Monday, November 27, 12:30 PM - 2:30 PM   

Canadian Organic Growers has spent the last few months working with researchers to identify the main risks involved in transitioning to organic production. Now it’s time to validate our findings – so we need to hear your story! If you are interested in transitioning to organic, started to transition but stopped, have completed transition successfully, have been organic from the start, or want to tell us how we can support transition then please join us at our producer focus group to discuss transition. Outcomes of this work will benefit organic and transitioning producers across the country.

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  • TBA

Seed Growers Meeting

Monday, November 27, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM   

This meeting will be for commercial seed growers, and those who are on the brink of commercialization. This session will be a follow-up to a meeting held in April 2016 to discuss ways that seed sellers can better co-operate at Seedy Saturdays, communicate and share about their available seed, and use newly developed Atlantic Grown Seed marketing tools.

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  • TBA

Managing Staff on the Farm - Part I

Monday, November 27, 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM   

Finding and keeping farm staff can be an ongoing challenge. What are the challenges that your farm faces in ensuring that all of the work gets done? Tim Livingstone will facilitate this discussion and will draw on the expertise of conference speakers and regional farmers to offer experiences and solutions to the increasing complexity of staffing in agriculture.

Advanced
Farmer-to-Farmer Discussion
Ballroom C

This workshop is generously supported by Farm Credit Canada

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Social Media Marketing Training - Part I

Monday, November 27, 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM   

One year ago, the Truro Farmers' Market decided to invest in their social media marketing. What have they done and what has been the return on investment? Lessons for your market and your business.

Intermediate
MacLeod Room

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Know Your Varieties: Effective On-farm Variety Trials

Monday, November 27, 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM   

We will cover the importance of on-farm variety trialing in the organic production context. Designing effective and farmer-friendly variety trials that meet the needs of the small organic grower. This session will cover how to select the right crop(s) and (check) varieties to trial, as well as practical strategies for randomizing and replicating your variety trials, and observing and evaluating them in the field. Drawing on case studies of pepper and lettuce variety trials in Iowa, this session will illustrate the impact of good variety trailing for organic vegetable and vegetable seed producers.

All Levels
MacDonald Room

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Inputs for Organic Agriculture: Determining the Allowance of Inputs

Monday, November 27, 2:30 PM - 3:30 PM   

Inputs used in agriculture, such as pesticides and fertilizers, are an integral part of most production systems. Specific regulations dictate which inputs are allowed or prohibited in certified organic production. Commercial growers and home gardeners alike will learn the basics about which types of inputs are allowed in certified organic crop and livestock production. Attendees will also learn how to use the OMRI Canada Products List© to determine which brand name products have been reviewed and approved for use in organic production and processing.

Beginner
Nova Scotia Room

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Managing Staff on the Farm - Part II

Monday, November 27, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM   

Farm managers need support and training to foster self-directed employees and to mentor a new generation of farmers to become ambassadors for agriculture. People trade their skills and experience for the success of your farm. Bring your best practices and the challenges you’ve faced in ensuring fairness and care for your farm staff.  

Advanced
Farmer-to-Farmer Discussion
Ballroom C

This workshop is generously supported by Farm Credit Canada

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Social Media Marketing Training - Part II: Photographs

Monday, November 27, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM   

Images rein supreme on social media but how do you create a photo worth a thousand marketing words?

Intermediate
MacLeod Room

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Seed Quality Assessments for Small-scale Seed Producers

Monday, November 27, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM   

Seed quality assessments are a final step in assuring the quality of your commercial or shared seed crop. They are similar to variety trials but with a narrower purpose and scope - to help seed producers evaluate their own seed lots or company seed lots against similar but commercially grown varieties. This workshop will present farmers with an on-farm method and template - developed at the UBC Farm - to do this simply and effectively, minding producers' restricted schedule during the growing season. The presentation will explain the methods and use case scenarios to show the efficiency of the template.

Advanced
MacDonald Room

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Striking A Balance - Digging Deeper

Monday, November 27, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM   

Following up from our morning plenary, our four regional perspectives continue the conference conversation. How can the organic sector achieve the principles and expected outcomes of organic agriculture both locally and globally? What are the questions that need to be asked? What are the challenges to be solved?

Intermediate
Nova Scotia Room

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Regroupement Farm Apprentices and Worker Network (F.A.W.N.) / F.A.W.N. Gathering

Monday, November 27, 5:15 PM - 6:15 PM   With Interpretation

Interested in getting experience on someone else’s farm before you start your own? Want to meet other apprentices or workers? Join the Farm Apprentices and Worker Network (F.A.W.N.) to connect with other new farmers in the Maritimes and find out more about who FAWN is, what they do and how you can get involved.

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Intéressé d’acquérir de l'expérience sur la ferme de quelqu'un d'autre avant de commencer la vôtre? Vous voulez rencontrer d'autres apprentis ou travailleurs? Joignez-vous au Réseau des apprentis et des travailleurs agricoles (F.A.W.N.) pour établir des liens avec d'autres agriculteurs dans les Maritimes, en apprendre davantage sur le réseaux, sur ce qu'ils font et comment vous pouvez vous impliquer!

MacDonald Room

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  • TBA

Coalition for Organics in Nova Scotia Gathering

Monday, November 27, 5:15 PM - 6:15 PM   

The voice of organic in Nova Scotia, COINS, welcomes all NS producers. Gather in the NS Room and the group will decide on supper plans before attending the Kick-Off party. Share thoughts on the GE alfalfa resolution being put forth at the NS Federation of Agriculture AGM on Nov 30th. Get an organic regulation update and share your NS organic concerns, challenges, information, and updates.

Nova Scotia Room

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  • TBA
Program at a Glance