Aug 22, 2023
Oregon Tilth promotes transition to organic program

The USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP) Northwest Regional Lead, Oregon Tilth Certified Organic, is casting a wide net with its partners to spread TOPP messaging throughout farming communities.

Oregon Tilth is reaching qualified organic mentors, and letting those interested in transitioning to organic know what resources will be available to them through the mentorship program. TOPP leads identify and recruit experienced organic farmer mentors to pair with conventional or beginning farmers who have interest in organic production methods and the certification process.

Photo courtesy of USDA.

From sending email blasts to working with inspectors and certifiers who deal directly with producers, regional partners are getting in front of the agricultural community through every means possible. Outreach events have been key in identifying promising candidates to serve as mentors.

Examples of such events include Oregon Tilth presenting on how the TOPP mentorship program helps grow and strengthen organic networks at the Idaho Soil Health “5 for 5” meeting, an event that brings together agricultural professionals, university Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). This TOPP presentation comes on the heels of another one at a University of Idaho Organic Workshop earlier in the year. Oregon Tilth and the Oregon Organic Hazelnut Collective also joined forces to present a “Going Organic” webinar featuring information on organic certification and TOPP support and are talking about having an Oregon Organic Hazelnut Collective Field Day in the future.

In addition to hosting face-to-face conversations and outreach events, Oregon Tilth has created outreach partnership tools that highlight TOPP and the expanded availability of organic mentors. TOPP is a young program, and the region has already received recommendations for more than 70 potential Northwest regional mentors and has many others interested in serving as a mentor.

About TOPP

The USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program is investing up to $100 million over five years in cooperative agreements with non-profit organizations that will partner with others to provide technical assistance and wrap-around support for transitioning and existing organic farmers. USDA is building partnership networks in six regions across the United States with trusted organizations serving direct farmer training, education, and outreach activities.

Northwest Regional Lead Oregon Tilth partners with organizations experienced in the organic industry to provide mentoring services, technical assistance, community building, and organic workforce development for transitioning and existing organic farmers.

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