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Harvest of Ideas forum to explore how UW–Madison can support organic agriculture in Wisconsin and beyond

Agricultural researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and members of Wisconsin’s agricultural community are invited to attend the upcoming Harvest of Ideas forum to explore how UW–Madison can best leverage its strengths to contribute to the advance of organic agriculture locally, nationally and globally through the university’s education, research and outreach activities. The forum runs Oct. 30-31 at the university’s Discovery Building.

“We are at a critical juncture for organics as the industry matures and markets become increasingly global. It is time for people across the industry – from farmers to industry partners to consumers – to come together to envision what we want for the future of organic agriculture, and how we can further innovate to support the sustainable production of healthy, abundant and safe food,” says Erin Silva, UW–Madison assistant professor of plant pathology and UW-Extension organic production systems specialist, who helped organize the event.

The forum kicks off at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30 with a presentation by Ricardo Salvador, director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Salvador will present his vision for how organic agriculture can contribute to the transformation of the U.S. food and agriculture system. An interactive reception following his presentation will encourage the exchange of ideas among attendees and provide opportunities for sharing them with forum organizers.

The program starts up again at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31 and features a half-day of discussions with various leaders in organic agriculture. Speakers and attendees will be invited to share guiding principles for and examples of successful research, education and outreach programs that support organic farmers and identify next-generation innovations. Ideas and inspirations collected in the morning will be further processed to distill key themes.

Wisconsin has been a national leader in organic agriculture for almost two decades, with the second highest number of organic farms of any state in the nation. Over the years, UW–Madison personnel have supported this sector through research, teaching and outreach, helping to develop knowledge and spread information to support organic systems, participating in the UW–Madison tradition known as the Wisconsin Idea. The Harvest of Ideas forum seeks to build on that tradition by initiating an intensive sifting and winnowing of ideas on the topic of organic agriculture—and then moving forward with some of the best options.

“With these ideas in hand, the goal is to develop plans for strengthening the coordination and reach of UW-led initiatives on organic agriculture,” says Silva. “Faculty, staff, and students at UW-Madison are poised and well-positioned to expand their work with organic farmers and other collaborators to broaden the scope and strengthen the role of organic agriculture in Wisconsin and around the world.”

The forum is free and open to all interested.

For more information or to register for the event, visit https://wiscore.wiscweb.wisc.edu/harvest-of-ideas/ or contact Jody Padgham at padgham@wisc.edu or (715) 667-3203.

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