Family Scale Organic Farming: Rural Revitalization and a Solution to Climate Change

Time: Thursday Oct 3rd from 1:15PM to 2:45PM

Location: Shoreline Room

Speaker(s): Jason Freeman - CEO, Farmer Direct Organic

Organic family farmers across North America are using innovative management practices to face the challenges of climate change, soil degradation and economic strife in the food system. Done properly, small-scale family organic farming can mitigate climate change and provide additional ecological value, such as clean water, clean air, soil erosion protection and economic revitalization for rural communities.

Learn how Farmer Direct Organic is prioritizing real organic family farmers using innovative farming methods and sequestering carbon to mitigate climate change through regenerative soil practices. Hear how organic best practices have changed over the past 20 years and what needs to change for the next 20 years. You will learn about regenerative farming systems, using crop rotation with minimal to no-till systems, that support soil microbiology and plant health.

This workshop will provide tools to help explain regenerative organic farming methods along with best practices for farmers.

Jason Freeman got his start in sustainable agriculture by selling exhibit space, sponsorships and advertising for the Commercial and Industrial Hemp Symposium and Commercial Hemp magazine. These two vehicles effectively lobbied the Canadian government to legalize industrial hemp in March of 1998.

After Canadian legalization, Jason founded BioHemp Environmental Technologies, the first company in North America to bring to market a line of certified organic hempseed foods. In March 2001, Jason sold BioHemp and founded Farmer Direct Co-op with three organic hempseed farmers. Farmer Direct Co-op grew to more than 60 farmer members providing a line of certified organic grains, seeds, and legumes.

In 2016, Jason left Farmer Direct Co-op after 14 successful years and founded North American Organic Trade Solutions (OTS). OTS specializes in organic and domestic fair trade raw material sourcing for food manufacturers and branding solutions for farmers looking to value-add their crops. OTS clients include some of the largest organic food manufacturers in North America and most innovative farmers in the USA and Canada.

In 2018, after struggling in the absence of Jason’s leadership and values, Farmer Direct Co-op members unanimously voted to sell ownership of their brand to Jason. In May that year, the brand was relaunched as Farmer Direct Organic. With Jason at the helm as CEO, Farmer Direct Organic is on a mission to change the food system for the better, and their line of certified organic, traceable and family farmed products can now be found in more than 800 stores nationwide.

Jason is also a founding member and current board member of the Domestic Fair Trade Association, a non-profit organization fostering collaboration between farmers and farmworkers in the North American sustainable agriculture movement and building supply chains dedicated to principles of fairness and equity.”