Strange days. How quickly everything is changing. And how quickly this tumult becomes the new normal.

The Dartmouth symposium is postponed for a year. We will let you know the new date when it is set. In the meantime, above is a link to a short video that we were planning to show at the symposium. It is compiled from many “Know Your Farmer” videos. I think it is wonderful. A pick-me-up for a troubled time.

This remarkable shift in how we live makes me think of a conversation I had with a professor friend last year. We had just heard David Grinspoon speak at a college on “Earth In Human Hands.” David’s book of the same title has little to do with farming but a great deal to do with the existential crisis that we are now facing. 

After hearing David speak, I asked my friend if he agreed with what David said? He did. I asked if most of the faculty at his college agreed? They did.

So I asked, If the faculty believe that we are facing a species extinction event, then how could the curriculum not have changed more in response to that inconvenient truth??!!

I don’t blame the college. This isn’t a problem particular to them. All of our institutions suffer from this disconnect. All of us personally struggle with the same inability to act on what we know.

A year later I read Jonathan Saffron Foer’s book, “We Are The Weather.” This is an important book. I don’t agree with all of Foer’s conclusions. Although he clearly shows that modern industrial farming is a core cause of climate change, he seems to dismiss deep organic regenerative farming as a sideshow in healing the climate.

Foer rather brilliantly answers the question of why we don’t act. He says we “know” about climate change, but we don’t “believe.” When we “believe,” we act.

In responding to the Coronavirus, we “believe.” Our whole world changes quite rapidly. Schools are closed. Most college campuses are closed and the Spring term will be virtual! Businesses are closed. Travel is canceled. Even live sports are canceled! We REALLY believe. And when we believe, the world changes.

Can we imagine how radical the changes would be if we believed that deep organic agriculture could save our world?

Paul Hawken told me that he doesn’t believe in hope. He believes in courage and action. So I am sharing the podcast with Paul’s interview once more. Perhaps it will help us to find the courage to act. As Paul said, No fear. No shame. No blame. Just courage and action.

I would like to end by sharing a letter from my old friend and teacher, Jake Guest. Although I grew up on a dairy farm, I never imagined I would pursue farming as a livelihood. I started my adult farming life with a job on Jake’s farm in 1980. He taught me about organic farming and taking care of the soil. He shared his library of classic books on organic farming. He remains a trusted voice in my life. Jake was a founder of NOFA and was chosen by Eliot Coleman to be one of the Agrarian Elders.

We have gotten many letters of support from people after we postponed the symposium. Jake’s letter was one of the most powerful. I reprint it here with his permission.

I’m just writing to tell you how much I appreciate and admire all that you’ve done to bring sanity and justice to this child we call
Organic. I know it must be hard to see the cancellation of the symposium caused by an unavoidable crisis beyond your control, but you and your team have really brought the best and the brightest together for what I’m sure in the future will be remembered as a seminal moment in the re-evolution of Organic….. we’ll just have to wait ’til next time.
Like a lot of other folks, I had been really looking forward to it. I have to admit, you have brought this ROP a whole lot further than I had imagined possible. It’s such a welcome relief to finally see something so positive happening in this otherwise dark and discouraging time.
You guys did a great job putting this symposium together, and I
thank you all…. Jake

Many people who bought tickets to the symposium wrote to us asking us to keep their ticket money as a donation. We were not able to do that. When we cancelled the event with Eventbrite, ALL monies were refunded. So if you would like to make a donation to support our community effort, please click below.


Many thanks to the many people who worked so hard to prepare for the symposium. Our 34 speakers, our 10 moderators, our dedicated staff and volunteers, our generous donors, our amazing group of co-sponsors who spread the word far and wide. To name just a few:

Our team: Linley, Davey, Ariel, Ralf, Forrest, Jenny, April, Brandon, Adam, Lisa, Jeannie, Cat, and so many more.

Our speakers:
Friday, April 3, Collis Center, Dartmouth College
Francis Thicke, ROP Chair Standards Board: 

Lisa Stokke:
“Why This Matters” 

Ben Dobson, Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Dag Flack and Will Allen:
“Real Organic Farming For Climate”

Glenn Elzinga:
“Organic on 70 Square Miles: Connecting Soil, Human Nutrition and Climate”

Alan Lewis:
“The Organic Supply Chain”

David Grinspoon – Keynote:
“Earth In Human Hands- How Do We Act On Our Beliefs?”

Forrest Town & Ralf Carestia:
“On The Road- Two Dartmouth Students Join The Real Organic Project”

Jennifer Taylor:
“Lola’s Organic and the Invincibility of the Organic Movement”

Steffen Reese & Nora Taleb:
“Farmer-led Add-on labels in the EU”

Steve Ela, Jesse Buie, Michael Sligh, Harriet Behar, Dave Mortensen – NOSB Members Testify!
“Can We Reclaim the National Organic Program? If So, HOW? If Not, What Then?”

Emily Oakley, Eliot Coleman, JM Fortier, Paul Muller:
“How Do We Keep A Strong Organic Movement with a Weakening National Organic Program?”

Saturday, April 4th Speakers
Spaulding Auditorium, Dartmouth College
Linley Dixon:
“What is the Real Organic Project?”

Fred Provenza:
“Soil, Farming, and Nutrition”

Javier Zamora:
“Social Justice In Agriculture. Farming As If Farmers and Farmworkers Mattered”

Anne Ross:
“The Organic Grain Fraud- Pulling Organic Down”

Dr. Tyrone Hayes:
“David Versus Goliath- One Scientist Versus Syngenta”

JM Fortier:
“Never A Better Time to Start a Real Organic Farm”

Paul Muller:
“California Rising”
VT Lieut. Gov & ROP Farmer David Zuckerman:
“Organic Without Soil Is Like Democracy Without People”

Peter Whoriskey:
“Exposing CAFOs in Organic”

Hugh Kent:
“Erosion of Organic Integrity and the Rise of Plastic Farms”

Emily Oakley:
“My Experience with the USDA”

Paul Holmbeck:
“Organic Movement in Denmark: Hope For Our Future”

Dave Chapman:
“Why A Real Organic Project?”

Eliot Coleman:
“The Generous Earth”

Chellie Pingree:
“The Path Forward”

Paul Hawken
“Regeneration- Reversing the Climate Crisis in One Generation”

Our Co-sponsors:

Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Bionutrient Association
Charlie and Leigh Merinoff
Crea Lintilhac 
Dartmouth Sustainability Program
Dartmouth Organic Farm
David Hollenbeck 
Gardener’s Supply Co.
Hanover Coop
Hanover High School Environmental Club
Hunger Mountain Coop
Intervale Center 
Irving Energy Institute
Ken and Cindy LaRoe
Meshewa Foundation
National Organic Coalition
Next 7
Nourish Vermont
Thetford Academy
UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture
Vermont Agency of Agriculture
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
VT Farm Bureau

Our Donors to the “Support A Farmer” Program:

Lattner Family Foundation
Nature’s Path
Long Wind Farm
Lintilhac Foundation
Tom Sargent
John Fullerton
Organic Consumers Association

More supporters were pouring in every week. Our thanks to all of you for creating this possibility. We will make it a reality next year.