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Building Resilience Together in 2020

by Kelly Damewood |

Dear CCOF Family,

2020 has been a wild ride. A national pandemic, a looming recession, a racial injustice reckoning, and now unprecedented wildfires sweeping through CCOF’s hometown of Santa Cruz, California and across Northern California.  

But, despite it all, CCOF is stronger than ever before. We implemented successful emergency preparedness strategies, including securing our company and member data to ensure as little interruption in services as possible. Additionally, our skilled remote workforce ensures stability when staff and members experience geographic-specific natural disasters.

We are also adept at helping our members through rough times. When disaster strikes, we quickly implement fee waivers and extend deadlines for certified members. Once the immediate dangers have passed, our Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund is available to any organic producer in the nation facing any hardship. Since 2007, we have given away $210,000 to farmers in need.

Our incredible family of staff, inspectors, governance, and members continue gathering virtually to share experiences and resources. As you can imagine, hosting meetings via Zoom is not a farmer’s favorite pastime. Nonetheless, the CCOF Board of Directors members and CCOF chapter leaders still found ways to connect and spearhead record donations to our Bricmont Hardship Assistance Fund because they wanted to help other producers in need.

Our programs and services are backed by our people-first work culture. CCOF offers generous leave policies, flexible schedules, and other assistance. Not only is it the right thing to do, but we also know that our staff need to be personally secure before they can best serve our members and our mission. Company policies aside, what really sets our culture apart is how we come together as a community with empathy and support.

Of course, we are not perfect. You may experience delays in service as our largest group of staff and home office in Santa Cruz County navigate evacuation orders and even loss of homes from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. Like many of you, our staff are balancing childcare, remote school, and the many other impacts of COVID-19.

Moreover, we always want to do more to support organic producers in need, including farmworkers who are among the hardest hit in our agricultural community. We also have tough conversations ahead as CCOF continues our racial justice and equity learning journey.

But I am deeply grateful to continue improving our services and programs with you as we work together to advance organic agriculture for a healthy world. CCOF’s resilience is directly attributable to the courageous organic farmers, handlers, retailers, and restaurant owners who have poured their passion into our organization and our mission. Thank you for helping us continue developing resilience through a challenging but strength-building year.


Kelly Damewood