The 35th Annual Guelph Organic Conference & Trade Show (Jan. 28-31, 2016) will connect hundreds of like-minded individuals again this year.
“It’s a wonderful showcase of organic foods – many Ontario based,” says Almut Pfenning of Pfenning’s Organic & More in St. Agatha, Ontario. “It’s so awesome, it gives me goose bumps.” For over 18 years, Almut, her husband Wolfgang and their children have had a booth at the event. “We are educators in food. We want to convey the message that it is possible to heal yourself with food and to use food as medicine. It can be possible to lose touch with food when you are also selling creams, supplements and other items,” says Almut.
“The people at the conference understand the value of good food. You look at them and their faces have colour and rosy cheeks. They know how to cook and appreciate the vegetables that we sell at our booth,” notes Almut.
Not only does the conference draw hundreds of consumers, like those shopping with Almut, it also attracts many other key players in the organic category such as retailers, growers, market garden producers, suppliers, advocates and others.
“We see a lot of our own growers and get a chance to talk with them in person,” says Almut. “We have also made connections for our store.” For example, “we have found suppliers of meat and apples through the conference.”
“It’s a real cross section of people who come to the conference,” notes Tomas Nimmo, Conference Manager. “From government representatives to certifiers to growers, to movers and shakers – we’ve got them all attending. That’s a lot of knowledge and resources gathered in one spot.”
“Organics is in an upswing right now, but it’s important the sector really solidifies its position,” says Tomas. “Like any expanding business model, there are challenges. By having strong connections, the sector will be better prepared to deal with whatever comes its way,” he emphasizes.
“What always strikes me about the conference, and the organic sector, is the willingness of people to give information and share,” notes Tomas. “I always say ‘never stop promoting.’ I’ll rest a little easier when organic is more than 10% of market share. That’s when it will be really big,” says Tomas.
This year’s conference will feature over 150 exhibitors including Pfenning’s Organic (both the farm distributor and Almut’s store), Ontario Natural Food Co-op, Nature’s Path, Crofters, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, Sunshine Pickles, Organics Live and dozens more. The workshop schedule is jam packed with 42 program offerings covering a diverse range of topics including certification, pollination, urban gardening, organic crop & livestock production, biodynamics and much more.
The Guelph Organic Conference takes place January 28 to 31, 2016. Registration, maps & details can be found at www.guelphorganicconf.ca. For those interested in exhibiting in 2017, contact Tomas Nimmo at 705-444-0923 or firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the waiting list. •