Conference History

Origins 

This event started with a simple launch – an afternoon seminar dreamed up by a couple of grad students on the Guelph campus in the winter of 1982.  

The student group “Guelph Ag. Alternatives” ran it for years, but it then became a larger and broader event when a coalition of non-profits assumed the management in 1992.

Since 2003, the Annual Conference & Trade Show has been organized and promoted by a federal non-profit corporation – ‘Organic Food Conferences Canada’ – managed by representatives of 16 public sector, non-profit organic groups (see Offical Organizing Sponsors at the bottom of the SPONSORS page).

In the mid-1990’s, the Trade Show (such as it was at that time) could barely attract 35 booths because that was the state of the ‘organic industry.’ However, somewhere along the way (2001 or so) the Trade Show took off and suddenly there was so much demand from the organic market segment that it began to fill 70 Main Level spaces, eventually expanding to the Basement Level (Peter Clark Hall) with another 80 booths.  At that point, by 2008, it was completely filling the Guelph University Centre.

Celebrating 30 years

The event experienced its 30th annual staging in January 2011, when an entire generation shared its organic family experience (the 3-generation Manley family).  With the 31st annual, 2012 Conference, the event headed into its next 30-year generation of growth. This was accomplished by sowing the ‘Seeds of Co-operation’ which was a successful focus on the U.N.’s International Year of Co-operatives.

For 2013, the 32nd annual 4-day event included international speakers, seminars & intro workshops on key topics including, Genetically Engineered foods, organic production/certification, changing climates, permaculture concepts, sustainable buildings, farmland protection, food security and home microgreens.  

From producer to consumer, the workshops offered something for everyone. PLUS, there was an Organic Tasting Fair with 150+ exhibitors (included 30+ food samplers) on Saturday/Sunday, free to the public. This became an opportunity to sample and purchase a wealth of organic, fair trade products.  

Continuing to Grow

Since 2014 the conference has continued to grow, welcoming new speakers each year and the Trade Show now includes over 160 tables.

Guelph welcomes everyone so take a mid-winter break at the University Centre.  

This Conference always wants to be on the leading edge of the movement, so come out and see what’s new !