mirrored the adoption by retailers. In those early years, natural food stores and Whole Foods supplied much of the excitement and sales opportunities. He recalls that when Costco determined it was not going to concede that piece of the pie to those retailers, demand kicked up to another level. It received another boost in Smith’s recollection when the Walmart group decided it wasn’t going to concede those sales to Costco. JV Smith followed suit by increasing its acreage devoted to organics on an annual basis. Initially, the category saw double digit growth. Today, the veteran farmer said there is still sustained growth, but it has moderated because the base has risen significantly. Looking back on the early years, Smith said “I like to think we brought some professional expertise to organic farming in areas such as soil preparation, bed preparation and irrigation techniques. At the same time, we learned a lot about growing a crop. It was amazing what we could achieve using less inputs, and so little nitrogen.” Among the topics that will be explored during OGS are indoor farming, growing and selling organics in the Mexican market, triple net sustainability, agtech in the field, challenges of scaling organic production, organic ag inputs, and marketing prospects and consumer trends for organic produce. Matt Seeley, co-founder and CEO of the Organic Produce Network, which produces OGS, said the organic grower community is enthused about getting together again after having
to take a year off in 2020 because of the restrictions necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. “We are truly excited that we are able to partner with Western Growers to bring the industry the Organic Grower Summit,” he said. “Western Growers is noted for its emphasis on high tech and we are looking forward to two days of discussing the latest and greatest innovations that can help organic growers achieve success.” Seeley said there is a great lineup of sessions ranging from food safety to new innovations, but surely a highlight of the event will be the presentation of the Grower of the Year award to Smith. “Vic Smith is one of the most innovative and progressive growers in our industry. He is a grower’s grower!” The OPN CEO pointed out that there will be several Western Growers leaders and innovators taking part in the show. He drew particular attention to a session on the challenges of scaling in the organic sector. “We have a dynamic panel with Rod Braga of Braga Fresh Family Farms serving as the moderator. The panel will include organic pioneers from Homegrown Organic Farms (Scott Mabs), Lakeside Organic Gardens (Dick Peixoto) and Del Rey Avocado (Jessica Hunter). All four of these companies have been very successful building robust organic programs. For any grower in the organic space or exploring entry, this is a must-see presentation.” Further information about the show can be found at the show’s website: organicgrowersummit.com
Update your written COVID-19 prevention plan
Continue daily symptom checks for your employees
Train your workers on spread, symptoms, and company policies
Inform your workers of workplace exposures
Make COVID-19 safety part of your seasonal preparation.
Visit aghealth.ucdavis.edu/covid19/wg to protect your employees and your business.
NOVEMBER | DECEMBER 2021
Western Grower & Shipper | www.wga.com
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