2016 COABC Conference - Vernon, BC - The Co-Op Connection

2016 COABC Conference - Vernon, BC
The Co-op Connection

I recently attended the Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC) Conference. Which was held right here in Vernon this year (Feb 26-28, 2016). As an organic grower, and former board member of the BC Association for Regenerative Agriculture (BCARA), I've attended the conference for the last several years. And I can tell you, this year was one of the best I've been to yet! The COABC staff and volunteers and the conference organizer (Michelle Tsatsumi) deserve a huge THANKS! for all their hard work and dedication. It was well run, organized, and on schedule. The food was amazing (as it always is!). This year's theme was "Resilience", and there were a diverse range of workshops to attend over the weekend on this topic. As well as several roundtable discussions on current organic industry issues. There was also a video booth this year, where people could voice their opinions and experiences (related to organics of course!).


The conference is an annual opportunity for socializing and networking with other folks and organic producers from right here in BC. I was delighted to attend the Young Agrarians mixer, where young farmers (and aspiring farmers!) got together to discuss the challenges they were facing, as well as celebrating the triumphs they had achieved this past year. The conference also paid homage to two organic sector pioneers, Mary Forstbauer and Kathleen Neem. Warrior women and dedicated organic pioneers & producers, these two ladies helped pave the way for organics in the early years of the movement in BC. They will be greatly missed! We also celebrated Annie Moss (owner of Discovery Organics), who received COABC's Brad Reid Memorial Award this year for her outstanding work and dedication to improving labour conditions for farmers in developing countries. As well as her outstanding work in the organic sector here in the BC.


The highDr. Vandana Shivalight of the conference was the keynote speaker, Dr. Vandana Shiva. It was a real treat to hear her speak about seed saving, and the issues in her own country that lead her to take on the mantle of seed/farm labour advocate in the first place. You can tell immediately how passionate and intelligent she is. The thought provoking ideas she put forward, and the compassion in her voice, really touched us all.

In my opinion the conference was a huge success!
And a great time to be had by all.
The food, the fun, the thought provoking discussions and of course, THE PEOPLE!
I can't wait to see what next year's conference holds.

Shauna Gavigan
Your Local Farmacy - Lumby BC