Organic Grower Summit Featured Innovation, Networking

"We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback," shared OPN Co-founder Tonya Antle.

Keynote Panel - Dave Puglia, Keith Barnard, Bianca Kaprielian, and Mike Valpredo. Image courtesy of OGS.

Monterey, CA—The Organic Grower Summit, presented by Western Growers, took place last week in Monterey, CA, showcasing new innovations and technologies in the agriculture community.

The two-day event featured eight educational sessions covering various industry-related topics, including the use of robotics and the difficulties of growing organically in Mexico.

The session “Smart Farm: Ag Tech in the Field” covered use of robotics in farming. Sebastian Boyer, CEO of FarmWise, showcased his high-tech FarmWise Titan machine, along with other equipment, at the summit. Boyer shared that he has used 12 autonomous weeders in the Salinas Valley all summer long. In the same session, Gabe Sibley of Verdant Robotics spoke on “ground-based robotics” and how the company has been able to digitize the complete growth cycle of a crop, allowing Verdant to utilize the data to perform cultural tasks precisely and automatically, potentially producing a better and bigger crop.

In another session, members in the agricultural community spoke about the difficulties of growing organically in Mexico. According to the press release, representatives of Taylor Farms, JV Smith Companies, and Divine Flavor expressed concern regarding the difficulties they face growing and marketing organic produce on both sides of the border. Maria Barajas, Spanish Service Supervisor for CCOF Certification Services, assured attendees that organic produce from Mexico typically exceeds US Organic standards, as the regulations are often stricter.

Plus, the Organic Grower of the Year Award was presented to winner Vic Smith. Smith shared in his acceptance speech that California introduced him to organic farming, when he attended the original organic farming summit in Asilomar, CA, largely comprised of individuals who opposed larger corporations. What he learned at that event helped shape the agriculturalist he is today. As stated by the press release, Smith has over 30 years of industry experience and has become one of the largest contract growers of organic vegetables, supplying some of the larger shippers in western agriculture.

Organic Produce Network Co-founder Tonya Antle remarked: “This year’s OGS was an amazing two days of education and networking for those in the organic fresh produce industry. We’ve heard nothing but positive feedback on the educational part of our program, and the OGS trade show floor reaffirmed that the organic fresh food industry is evolving rapidly, with tremendous strides in technology, new biological tools, and the latest in packaging and product services—all with the goal of making organic farmers more effective, efficient, and profitable.”