Celebrating the Future of Organic at Expo East

The CCOF Foundation and UNFI Foundation were thrilled to host the First Annual Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund Dinner in Baltimore, Maryland on Thursday, September 17.

Cathy Calfo, CCOF’s Executive Director/CEO, and Melody Meyer, the UNFI Foundation’s Executive Director, hosted CCOF Board Members, grant fund supporters, and two grant fund recipients for an organic dinner at Forno Restaurant and Wine Bar. Calfo and Meyer spoke about the impetus for the fund—the aging farmer population and the lack of educational and financial resources to train new organic farmers—and how they raised $50,000 in 2014 to launch the fund. CCOF Board Chairman Phil LaRocca shared how excited the CCOF Foundation Board of Trustees is to invest in the next generation of organic farmers.

The highlight of the evening was hearing directly from two grant fund recipients: James Harris and Jennie Wagner. Harris, a ten year veteran of the United States Army and an apprentice at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) at the University of California, Santa Cruz, spoke to the challenges of his transition when he left the army and the healing he found through organic agriculture. Wagner, a student in soil and plant science at North Carolina State University shared her dream of establishing school and community gardens to help educate people about the benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture.

They both expressed their tremendous gratitude to the CCOF Foundation and the grant fund supporters for contributing to their education and future careers in the organic industry.

The CCOF Foundation is particularly grateful to the grant fund supporters who were able to attend the dinner, including UNFI Foundation, Driscoll’s, and Organic Valley. The 2015 Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund is also supported by Clif Bar Family Foundation, National Co+op Grocers, and Lauren and Eric Schiermeyer.

The Future Organic Farmer Grant Fund was established in 2014 to support the next generation of organic producers and eaters. To date, nearly $150,000 has been disbursed to recipients across the country, reaching 6,000 teachers and students. To learn more about the fund or to make an investment in the future of organic, please visit the CCOF Foundation website. With your help in 2016, we can reach more than 8,000 students and teachers and help them advance their studies and careers in organic agriculture.

Pictured above, from left to right: Jennie Wagner, James Harris, Cathy Calfo, Andrea Davis-Cetina and Phil LaRocca

Pictured: Carmela Beck (Driscoll’s) at left and Melody Meyer (UNFI Foundation)