Conference to address the future of organic agriculture

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

IOWA CITY, Iowa –The popular documentary Symphony of the Soil, with acclaimed filmmaker Deborah Koons Garcia on hand to answer questions, is just one of the many reasons to attend the Iowa Organic Conference on November 18-19, 2012.

The Twelfth Annual Iowa Organic Conference will feature the latest research and lively conversation on the future of organic agriculture. Early registration for the conference ends on October 28.

Sponsors include Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, University of Iowa Office of Sustainability, New Pioneer Food Cooperative and the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

The conference will kick off with an evening reception on Sunday, which includes the first-ever showing in Iowa City of the new film Symphony of the Soil. The documentary reveals the human misuses of soil and innovative ways to protect this vital resource. Garcia will share insights about making the film, and participants will enjoy organic appetizers and locally brewed drinks.

The conference continues on Monday with a full day of speakers, workshops and exhibits. Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power, Inc., will give the morning keynote. The recipient of a McArthur Genius Grant, Allen is a global leader in urban agriculture and helped launch Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign at the White House.

“If people can grow safe, healthy, affordable food, if they have access to land and clean water, this is transformative on every level in a community,” Allen said. “I believe we cannot have healthy communities without a healthy food system.”

Fred Kirschenmann, Leopold Center Distinguished Fellow, will give the afternoon keynote over an all-organic lunch. Kirschenmann, who is featured in Symphony of the Soil, will speak about how organic principles can address a future with peak oil, rising fuel prices and limits on fertilizer supplies.

Both Allen and Kirschenmann received the Leadership Award from the James Beard Foundation in 2011, which honors pioneers who have inspired positive action to improve our country’s food systems.

“Among the many topics we will cover at the conference, producers will learn the best strategies for coping with drought from some of the top organic producers in the state,” said Kathleen Delate, agronomy and horticulture professor at ISU and the conference organizer. “Folks interested in fruit and vegetable production will learn marketing techniques and food policies to improve their place in Iowa's growing local food system.”

Breakout sessions will cover issues as wide-ranging as the Farm Bill, organic certification, beginning farmers, GMO labeling, cover crops and the connection between organic food and human health. A tradeshow will allow attendees to visit with grain buyers and seed, equipment and soil amendment vendors. Find the agenda on the conference website.

Register online at or contact Kathleen Delate at (515) 294-7069 or Early registration is $95 per person. Discounted registration and scholarships are available to students.  


Kathleen Delate, ISU Organic Ag, (515) 294-7069,

Laura Miller, Leopold Center Communications, (515) 294-5272,