I just finished writing our Annual Report for our Maritime Province government funders (ACORN receives about 5% of our annual funding from each Maritime Department of Agriculture). We were all impressed to see just what had been done in a year’s time with only one full-time staff, interns and contractors. If you’ve ever wondered what we spend our time on, or why you should pay $30 to join ACORN, here are the highlights from 2010/2011:
- ACORN was the only regional organization partner for Canada’s first “Organic Week” and successfully developed special events and/or promotions in every Atlantic Province;
- Worked with partners (OTA, ACOA, AAFC and provinces) to hold an Educational Mission to Boston for Expo East and All Things Organic, including first Atlantic Canadian organic trade show exhibit for industry;
- Represented Atlantic Canada at the first Canadian Organic Extension Meeting in Banff, AB, and have continued work on the initiative;
- Completion of white paper on the extensive use of unsubstantiated organic claims across Maritimes;
- Accepted invitation to sit on the Organic Value Chain Roundtable and attended Winnipeg meetings;
- Organic Grains Market Study marked the completion of the four-year Organic Grains Network project;
- Continued Organic Berry Network with regional researchers meeting, two newsletters, and conference workshop stream;
- Expanded the third year of Organic Transition Services with NRC-IRAP partnership through hiring of a new Coordinator, Roxanne Beavers, in addition to Rupert Jannasch;
- Three webinars held with transition team–organic standards, potting soil, incorporating livestock into vegetable production–as well as in-person farm meetings in each province;
- Two surveys conducted on CSAs–one for members (400+ responses) and one for businesses (30+ responses)–with results shared with CSA network and members;
- ACORN completed the 11th annual organic conference and trade show in Fredericton with close to 500 participants, 50 workshops, and over 35 exhibitors;
- New Organic Farmers Forum held, drawing over 70 people from across Atlantic Canada;
- First Organic Kids Conference held in Atlantic Canada with 21 children, aged 4-12;
- Meeting for regional organic inspectors held to discuss critical issues and training needs;
- CFIA/Canada Organic Office consultation provided for inspectors and certifiers;
- Secured Career Focus grant to assist with hiring of SOIL Apprenticeships (sustainable farm apprenticeship program) regional coordinator;
- Implemented the Local & Organic campaign in Nova Scotia with new brochure and signage for all certified producers;
- Continued work with NB-ACORN committee with two in-person meetings for the NB Strategic Plan, prioritization exercise, and hiring of project coordinator. ACORN also lead the NB organic program funding request and certification cost-sharing initiative;
- Worked with PEI COPC to provide strategy, budgets, and RFP framework for developing its provincial strategic planning process;
- Provided Nova Scotia with NB survey and background information, as well as industry outreach, to ensure success in its provincial strategic plan process;
- Organization of APEX table for organic businesses;
- French on-line resources updated and revised;
- Creation of new farm grants wiki for information sharing across agricultural sector;
- Participated in Growing Forward consultations;
- Regional statistics developed in partnership with Anne Macey.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are many more projects and responsibilities that ACORN has been involved in over the year. We also update the organic database for all certified farms and businesses in Atlantic Canada, as well as CSAs, farmers markets, organic retailers and more. We are active in the development of the Canada Organic Standards and the national organic products regulation–ensuring continued rigour for organics.
ACORN is also a leading source of information on organic agriculture for both farmers and consumers. In the past year, the organization has issued twelve e-newsletters (with more than 2000 subscribers), four member newsletters, two PEI newsletters, one New Brunswick newsletter, two Grains Network newsletters and two Berry Network newsletters. We also attend events and speak at various meetings across the region.
Not a member? Please consider joining ACORN today. For any member renewals or new memberships received by May 30th, you’ll be entered into a draw to win a night’s stay at the Holiday Inn in Oromocto! You are also entitled to our sincere appreciation.
It has been another outstanding year for ACORN and we greatly appreciate the on-going financial and in-kind support from all its partners. ACORN is extremely appreciative of the assistance received from the Maritime Provinces and support of the organic industry generally.