The Organic Farming Research Foundation, founded in 1990, has a simple goal — to see organic farming become the leading form of agriculture in America.
To help accomplish this, the foundation in Santa Cruz, Calif., provides support and funding for cultivation research, education, and federal policies that increase organic farming operations and acreage.
External relations director Denise Ryan says the organization has several projects under way.
“There’s a lot going on right now,” she said. “We’re very excited about it.”
The most recent development is the newly launched online Web portal.
“This tool provides really good access for organic farmers to quickly receive relevant information for their needs. It includes up-to-the-minute policy alerts and organic curriculum and teaching materials,” Ryan said.
Curriculum information ranges from preschool to postgraduate, according to Ryan.
“We believe that appreciation for organic foods starts as a little kid,” she said.
Ryan also said the foundation plans to continue working to track the results of these educational efforts to see what is most successful in farm-to-fork programs.
The website, www.ofrf.org, also was used as a platform to release the Organic Farming for Health and Prosperity Report, which detailed several benefits of organic produce.
“It includes environmental, soil, water, human, health and economic benefits of organic farming,” Ryan said.
The report is available for download on the site.
Ryan said that now that the foundation has laid out the infrastructure to deliver more relevant and timely information to the organic farming community, they will be working next year to promote more programs and policies.
“Right now we’re working on the farm bill. We’re also working very hard with land grant universities,” she said. “We’re working proactively on a state-by-state basis, launching and promoting organic programs in university systems.”
Another important aspect of the foundation’s work includes awarding grants to individuals and organizations that are interested in promoting and improving organic farming.
“We offer two grant cycles a year, in the spring and the fall,” Ryan said. “Information can be found on the website to apply.”
Grant applications are reviewed by a committee and then sent to the board of directors, composed of organic growers and researchers, for selection.
Funding for the grants varies from year to year and is dependent of the foundation’s fundraising activities.
Currently, the foundation is preparing to launch an end-of-year giving campaign that will focus on a barn-raising theme.
“It will be heavily social-media based with YouTube animations and partner promotions,” Ryan said.
The program is set to launch in early to mid-November.