LA CROSSE, Wis. – “It’s very important that we develop a collective vision of where we’re going so our work can be focused,” David Abazs says.
He’s the owner of Round River Farm near Finland, Minnesota, and director on the board of the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service. He’s talking about Organic 2051, a blueprint for a future in which regenerative-organic practices and infrastructure will help feed the world’s population in 2051 and beyond.
Organic farmers, researchers and other industry professionals — 100 of them — recently met prior to the MOSES Organic Farm Conference in La Crosse. The individuals had been pre-selected by the organization to think about solutions to challenges of feeding a burgeoning population in the face of a changing climate. Those individuals met in smaller groups in La Crosse to discuss priority areas and develop recommendations for how the organic industry can achieve its goals. The group as a whole is focusing on production, community and sociological issues.
A report that addresses the focus areas and precise action steps will be forthcoming, Abazs said.
“The challenges will be great,” he said. “We’ll need to bridge our silos of work in a collective movement quickly enough to deal with climate change and the growing demand for food.”
Molly Rockamann, founding director of EarthDance Organic Farm School in Ferguson, Missouri, also is a director on the organization’s board.
“With the global population expected to reach more than 9 billion people by 2050 there’s consensus that regenerative-organic farming will not only be the preferred way, but the only way of farming based on climate conditions and natural resources,” she said.
Meeting future challenges will require the collaborative work of coalitions. Rockamann said there’s a good start with organizations such as the Organic Farming Association, the National Organic Coalition, the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the National Farmers Union and various state farmers unions.
Participants in the Organic 2051 forum addressed the need for more research.
“There was a lot of discussion about what research questions we should be asking and what applied research needs to be done,” Abazs said.
Collaborative research with farmers also is important, Rockamann said.
“Research is what organic farmers do every day as they trouble-shoot pest problems and other things,” she said.
Public- and private-sector researchers shouldn’t view farmers as end users but rather as collaborators, she said.
Rockamann said proceedings will be soon be posted on the MOSES website. Visit mosesorganic.org for more information.