Learning series pairs agronomy, grain marketing expertise for organic farmers

‘AgroEcology and the Economics of Organics’ is described as a course in knowledge-based consulting for business agronomists. Photo: Getty Images

New consulting firm supports shift toward regenerative agriculture

[Submitted] – Sustainable Grain, a boutique consulting firm helping clients leverage opportunities in the expanding organic and regenerative ag space, announced its first innovative learning series will launch February 11 and 12 in Winnipeg.

This premier educational event is the first of its kind discussing both how to produce healthy crops without chemicals, and strategies to get top dollar for them in the markets.

‘AgroEcology and the Economics of Organics’ will highlight the key principles of organic business development, agronomic strategies around transitioning land to organic production, and key steps for maximizing the long-term ROI of organic farming. The pathway to achieve success in organic farming is regenerative land management.

Most of today’s modern consumers want their food to be grown locally, and they want it to be nutritious and safe. – Brenda Tjaden

This course features Joel Williams of Integrated Soils, an independent plant and soil health educator and a healthy soils advocate. Joel will share his expertise on regenerative soil management, plant nutrition and integrated approaches of sustainable food production.

Sustainable Grain founder Brenda Tjaden said the course was developed in response to a wave of interest by new entrants into the organic and regenerative ag space, keen to leverage opportunities in this rapidly growing market. It features a panel of expert regenerative organic farms, and professional agronomists, farm management planners and financing agencies.

“Most of today’s modern consumers want their food to be grown locally, and they want it to be nutritious and safe. This is what’s driving continuous double-digit annual growth in purchases of food labels like certified organic and others,” said Tjaden. “The issues around fraud and miscommunication that make these label claims sometimes misleading to consumers are easily solved by identity-preserved logistics and track-and-trace systems.”

According to Tjaden, the need for objective information and marketing advice in this burgeoning space was the catalyst behind Sustainable Grain. “Some farmers are doing amazing things with their soil health, working hard to minimize tillage in organic systems, and overall finding a better way to grow food profitably without chemicals,” she said. “We want to help demonstrate this. As a company that cares about satisfying the market’s demands, we are working to create a supply of food crop ingredients that is legitimately more nutritious, safe and local. These are the values that cause food buyers to pay higher prices for certified organic foods.”

Tjaden said that new technology and an influx of new players has pushed down the cost of demonstrating the provenance of grain shipments to food companies and consumers. This opens up new opportunities for farmers, and lays the groundwork for Sustainable Grain’s new learning series, which will be an opportunity for open dialogue around the goals and tactics of creating a new supply of food ingredients that legitimately satisfies the values of modern consumers.

“Given all the media attention around herbicide tolerance, pesticide residues in grain shipments and consumer backlash against industrial agriculture, it’s high time we start talking to farmers about growing crops with less chemicals,” said Tjaden. “Our programs are geared toward sophisticated farms, innovative food companies, and business agronomists who want to understand the economic model needed to make this happen.”

The course will focus on improving soil health, which ultimately enables reducing input use, and how conventional farmers can transition parcels of land into organic without taking a hit to the bottom line. Participants will hear from managers of some of the top organic farms in Western Canada, as well as agronomy and business experts who specialize in transitioning conventional farmland into organic acres.

For more information, please call Brenda Tjaden at (204) 296-6265, and visit the Sustainable Grain website.