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Organics are no longer a niche market, according to the Organic Council of Ontario

Organics are no longer a niche market, according to the Organic Council of Ontario

Full report findings will be highlighted at the Guelph Organic Conference

By Farms.com

Visitors at the Guelph Organic Conference will get a glimpse into the Organic Council of Ontario’s (OCO) assessment of organic agriculture in Ontario.

The organization compiled a report after speaking with more than 580 producers, handlers and retailers. The report’s full findings, which will be revealed at the conference, provide an in-depth understanding of the challenges the organic sector faces.

“This information will help provide a strategic plan for the next six years,” Carolyn Young, executive director of the OCO, told Farms.com. “The launch of the report will include elements like the most sought-after products by retailers and the supports needed for stakeholders in the organic industry to overcome barriers to growth.”

The report is one of a few notable initiatives the OCO is spearheading during the conference.

The organization is also hosting a panel discussion aimed to give producers insights into how to scale up their businesses.

Four panelists will share their unique experiences of becoming larger organic operations in Ontario.

“The discussion is called Scaling Out Without Selling Out,” Young said. “Brent Preston from The New Farm, Zach Loeks from Kula Permaculture Farm, Michael Curry from Greenbelt Microgreens and Tom Manley from Homestead Organics will talk about how they’ve been able to grow their farms in an ever-changing landscape.”

OCO is also involved with a province-wide directory of all things certified organic.

But that doesn’t mean non-certified organizations will be excluded, Young says.

“We’ll have opportunities for non-certified businesses, like retailers and input providers, to participate in the directory,” she said. “It will also include a map and classifieds as well.”

The OCO’s directory is paired with its introduction of a tiered membership system.

“Basic membership is free for all certified organic operators,” Young said. “That means we will have over 1,300 members in 2018. If people want to contribute to what we’re doing and receive other benefits like a listing in the directory, they can become a (paid) supporting member.”

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