Jim Gerritsen, along with his wife Megan, is an organic farmer who has owned and run Wood Prairie Family Farm in northern Maine for 40 years. Wood Prairie Family Farm has been a MOFGA-certified organic farm since 1982. The Gerritsens are focused on the production of organic early generation Maine Certified Seed Potatoes, seed crops, vegetables and grain. They sell their organic seed crops through a mail order catalog and web-based business to customers in all fifty States.I n addition to farming, Jim has been active in the organic community with NGOs for four decades. He co-founded and now serves as President of the national farmer-run membership trade organization, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA). OSGATA is headquartered in Washington, Maine and acted as lead plaintiff in the landmark organic community Federal lawsuit, OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. OSGATA’s mission is to develop, promote and protect the organic seed trade and its farmers. In the past, Jim served as President of the educational and research NGO, Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) in Washington State. Additionally, he served for over twenty years on the Certification Committee of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). Jim helped MOFGA pass the State of Maine’s GMO Labeling law in 2013, the second such law passed in the United States. Jim also serves on the MOFGA Ag Services Committee. For many years he served on the Board of Directors of the Direct Gardening Association and on the Steering Committee of the local St John-Aroostook Resource Conservation & Development (RC & D) Council, formerly an arm of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Jim was co-founder of a local Slow Food chapter and co-founded a local chapter of Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). He has been a frequent speaker at farmer conferences in the United States and beyond. Jim has cooperated in numerous on-farm research trials with scientists, including those from the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the University of Maine. He served as an advisor to the UMO Northern New England Organic Bread Wheat Project. In October 2011, Jim was named as one of ’25 Visionaries Who Are Changing the World’ by Utne Reader magazine. In January 2014 and January 2016, Jim was a participant in the week long Agrarian Elders Gatherings held in Big Sur, California. In 2014 he spoke at the United Nations in New York City about the advantages of organic farming.The Gerritsens reside on their farm in the Aroostook County town of Bridgewater with their four children.
Bryce Stephens is a farmer and rancher in northwest Kansas. He has a degree in Anthropology, with studies in business and education at Wichita State University and law at Washburn University. He carries on the family’s tradition on 1,000 acres where he primarily raises wheat and livestock at Stephens Land and Cattle. He grows and maintains a landrace wheat called “Turkey Red” introduced to the Plains by Mennonites. Bryce is a seed saver and maintains his own stock of wheat, alfalfa and clover from his farm. He has been certified organic for over 15 years and is active with a major certifier as a Chapter Administrator for Kansas Organic Producers LLC. He is chairman of OCIA’s Accreditation/Government relations committee. Bryce also serves on the Board of the Kansas Organic Producers marketing coop. He is active with to two local consumer food buying coops.
Isaura Andaluz is passionate about food, bees and seeds. Through her consulting work in community economic development, she has worked on diverse agricultural projects with farmers, ranchers and seed savers. Isaura is a co-founder of Cuatro Puertas, which is guardian to the largest collection of native and drought-tolerant seeds in New Mexico. She works on developing new recipes and conducting food tastings at farmers markets for “forgotten” foods. Most recently she’s working on protecting New Mexico’s native chiles, which face extinction due to the genetically engineered chile being developed by New Mexico State University. Isaura also co-founded Slow Food Rio Grande, served on the board of the NM Farmers’ Marketing Association, and helped to organize the Save NM Seeds Coalition.
Lisa is co-founder and director of Food Democracy Now! with her partner, Dave Murphy. Co-plaintiff in the OSGATA et al. v. Monsanto lawsuit, Food Democracy Now! is gravely concerned about the continued approval of GE foods by the USDA, and also has a commitment to independent family farmers and works to advocate for a Farm Bill that is fair for farmers and nourishes America’s families. For nearly a decade, Lisa has focused on creating a local food system in Northern Iowa, working to connect consumers with farmers who raise and grow food sustainably. During the past several years Lisa has organized dozens of events in her community to bring her community closer to this goal and also events surrounding the Iowa Farmer’s Union 2007 Presidential Summit in Des Moines, IA, where President Obama made his now-famous promise to label genetically-engineered foods. In 2010, Lisa was honored to be named a “Woman Making a Difference”, by Shape Magazine. As the mother of four children, Lisa’s advocacy work is inspired by her desire and the urgency to maintain the integrity of organic and heirloom seed stock for future generations and the integrity of the organic label on foods.
Michael Glos has operated Kingbird Farm in central New York with his wife Karma and daughter Rosemary since 1996. Kingbird Farm is a diverse certified organic farm integrating the production of poultry, pork, beef, vegetables, draft horses, and plants. All products are marketed within 30 miles of the farm with majority of sales from an on-farm store, the Ithaca Farmers Market, and a food coop. Past involvement in the organic community has included serving as an organic certification review committee member, presenting at conferences, and participating in competitive organic grant review panels. Michael currently serves as president of the Tioga County Cooperative Extension board, as a founding farm member of Fingerlakes CRAFT, and as an advisory board member of the Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming. In addition to his farm work, Michael has worked with organic seed and breeding starting with NOFA-NY as part of the Public Seed Initiative in 2001 and continuing with the Cornell University Department of Plant breeding since 2004 concentrating on breeding and trialing of vegetable varieties for organic systems. This includes work on regional organic farms as well as Cornell’s organic research farm.
Lyn and her husband moved from northern California to the island of Hawai‘i in 2002 and developed Beach Road Farm, a diversified fruit, vegetable and herb farm growing over 130 medicinal herbs and spices, and 120 fruit tree varieties. She and her husband have been active in organic community gardening and farming endeavors for many years including re-vitalizing the Harvest for the Hungry garden in Santa Rosa California. This one acre diversified organic, community garden continues to grow thousands of pounds of food for the hungry every year. After moving to Hawaii Island they founded “Know Your Farmer Alliance” offering educational workshops, farm tours, seed exchanges and educational agricultural related events. Presently Lyn is a part-time employee of The Kohala Center working as Project Director for the Hawaii Public Seed Initiative, helping to foster seed networks and education throughout the Hawaiian islands for farmers and gardeners. She earned a BS degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and completed her graduate work at the University of Minnesota, St. Paul.
Recognized as both a “SuperLawyer” and “Lawyer of the Year” for his work as an environmental lawyer, Martin E. Levin has more than thirty years of government and private practice experience handling environmental and other complex legal matters. Throughout the 1990s, he served as Chief of the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force, leading the investigation and successful prosecution of companies for environmental practices that put health and safety at risk. After leaving government service, Martin was a partner in a highly regarded litigation firm in Boston. He prosecuted the first successful environmental class action in Massachusetts, representing approximately one thousand families adversely affected by an offshore oil spill. In 2015, he founded the Law Office of Martin E. Levin to focus his practice on environmental and other implications of genetic engineering. Martin serves as a Senior Fellow with the nonprofit Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG), and as Co-Chair of the Lawyers Committee of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH). He also works with the citizens’ group, MA Right to Know GMOs, to support mandatory labeling of GMOs in Massachusetts and nationwide.
A life-long seed saver, story collector and adventurer native to the Finger Lakes of New York, Petra Page-Mann loves all things Small and Unassuming. For more than a decade she’s travelled the globe soaking in the wisdom of small scale, ecological agriculture and in 2012 she began Fruition Seeds with her partner Matthew Goldfarb in her hometown. Together they are growing, breeding and distributing organic and open-pollinated seeds that regionally adapted to thrive in the Northeast. If she’s not growing seeds she’s likely hunting mushrooms, dancing, singing or sharing a meal with someone she loves. Visit her website at www.fruitionseeds.com.
Ira Wallace serves on the board of the Organic Seed Alliance and is a worker/owner of the cooperatively managed Southern Exposure Seed Exchange where she coordinates variety selection and seed grower contracts. Southern Exposure offers over 700 varieties of open-pollinated heirloom and organic seeds selected for flavor and regional adaptability. Southern Exposure helps people keep control of their food supply by supporting sustainable home and market gardening, seed saving, and preserving heirloom varieties. In addition, Ira is a member of Acorn Community which farms over 60 acres of certified organic land in Central Virginia, which grows seeds, alliums and hay, and also conducts variety trials for Southern Exposure. Ira is an organizer of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello− a fun, family-friendly event featuring an old-time seed swap, local food, hands-on workshops and demos, and more. Ira was cooperator with the SARE-sponsored Saving Our Seeds Project. She presents at events sponsored by the Virginia Association of Biological Farmers (VABF), Virginia Master Gardeners, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA), Mother Earth News, and the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG).