More than 20 Young Farmers from Throughout West Gather at Double J Jerseys Dairy in Monmouth, Ore.
Generation Organic (Gen-O), Organic Valley's next generation of organic farmers, came together on Saturday, June 27, at the Double J Jerseys farm in Monmouth, Ore., for a day of learning, sharing and connecting through activities surrounding the future of organic farming. The young farmers had the opportunity to learn from health and sustainable food systems experts, a veterinarian specializing in organic and natural treatments, and participate in small-group strategy sessions.
"Young farmers practicing organic farming represent the future of sustainable agriculture in our region and across the country," said Jon Bansen, Organic Valley farmer-member and host of the day-long gathering. "Organic family farms hold a message of hope for building an environmentally and economically sustainable food system, and they present opportunities in the marketplace that make choosing the farming life and lifestyle an option for young people drawn to farming as a profession."
Kelly Horton, a registered dietician and founder of Connect Nutrition, was the keynote speaker. Horton helped the young farmers make the soil to health connection, discussing how the health of eaters reflects the health of the food system, and the connections between the healthy land, nutritious food and healthy eaters.
The day continued with a farm tour and presentation on the importance of holistic animal care by Wisconsin-based Dr. Sarah Slaby, a practicing large animal veterinarian who specializes in organic and sustainable agriculture.
"The Gen-O gathering was inspiring," said Kelly Mahaffy, 29, from Myrtle Point, Ore. "It was very rewarding to meet my peers—other young family farmers—who share my passion for the health of the land, the cows and for producing high quality organic milk for the community."
"Organic Valley has made a huge impact in the organic movement," added Mitch Lucero, 26, an organic dairy farmer from Richfield, Idaho. "It's our time to contribute to this legacy and join many of the cooperative's founders to tackle the challenges facing today's food system."
Media note: Interviews with Organic Valley Gen-O farmers and photos taken during the gathering are available upon request.
Organic Valley Family of Farms: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and is one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents 1,326 farmers in 32 states and one Canadian province, and achieved $527.8 million in 2008 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a variety of organic foods, including organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. The same farmers who produce for Organic Valley also produce a full range of delicious organic meat under the Organic Prairie Family of Farms label. For further information, call 1-888-444-MILK or visit www.organicvalley.coop, www.organicprairie.coop and the cooperative's farmer website, www.farmers.coop.