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About Us

About the Ecological Farming Association

The Ecological Farming Association is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1981 when the first ecological farming conference was held at the Firehouse in Winters, California. For over three decades, EcoFarm has facilitated the inception and continued development of an ecologically sustainable and just food and farming system.

EcoFarm's mission is to nurture safe, healthy, just, and ecologically sustainable farms, food systems, and communities by bringing people together for education, alliance building, advocacy, and celebration.

36 Years of Advancing Ecological Farming

Through EcoFarm’s consistent quality of programs, we have developed a far-reaching network of people, NGOs, and businesses committed to sustainable agriculture. EcoFarm’s education programs have reached more than 60,000 participants over 36 years. Our programs bring together a diversity of stakeholders in California food production to promote grassroots leadership and regional solutions to decrease the negative impacts of industrial agriculture on environmental and community health.

The public is engaged in an ever-growing conversation about where our food comes from, who grows it, and who has access to it – and EcoFarm is uniquely positioned to influence and amplify this conversation and translate it into action. EcoFarm has been a leader in building the California sustainable agriculture movement through educational conferences, training programs, on-farm events and communications initiatives:

  • Conferences and on-farm events like the EcoFarm Conference, the Hoes Down Harvest Festival, and the Heartland Project.
  • Farmer education through trainings on renewable energy and water and soil management – allowing farmers to cut down on production costs while providing environmental benefits.
  • Persuasive media presence through targeted outreach on important food and farm issues, through our action alerts, GE News, and email network.

Historical Snapshot of EcoFarm

  • 1970s: Most organic farms were small and the technology and market immature. There was no forum for organic farmers to get together and share information.


  • 1981: The first Ecological Farming Conference was held at the Firehouse in Winters, California and 45 people attended.

First EcoFarm Conference Poster, 1981


Amigo Bob Cantisano, EcoFarm founder and advisor


Dru Rivers of Full Belly Farm, EcoFarm founder, advisor, and board member


EcoFarm Regional Workshop


Rob Feldman (on right) recording the EcoFarm Conference workshops back in the early 80's when the conference was held in La Honda, California.


EcoFarm representatives with Brian Leahy, pioneer and leader of California organic agriculture, and Agriculture Secretary Ann M.Veneman, who in 2002 launched the implementation of USDA's national organic standards for agriculturual products.


Steve Pavich, founder of Pavich Family Farms, now the largest producer of certified organic table grapes in the world, making a mockery of chemical pesticides at the annual EcoFarm Conference.


  • 1990s: The EcoFarm Conference continued to grow and moved to Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California.

Panel of EcoFarm Conference speakers and representatives of the Asilomar Declaration.


The Committee for Sustainable Agriculture (which was later renamed the Ecological Farming Association) organized harvest baskets that were brought to the California state capitol as a girft, statement, and invitation to legislators to the natural beauty, bounty, and importance of local farm-fresh produce.


EcoFarm founder and advisor Amigo Bob Cantisano awarding Robert Rodale of the Rodale Institute with the Sustie Award at the annual EcoFarm conference in 1990.


Masanobu Fukuoaka, Japan's Great Grandfather of Natural Farming with his crew and EcoFarm founder and advisor Zea Sonnabend.


Coffee producers from Chiapas, Mexico with Cafe Mam attending the annual EcoFarm Conference with founder Dahinda Meda and EcoFarm's Spanish/English interpreter, Adele Negro.


California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) tabling at the annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival.


Young boy on play tractor at the annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival.


Wheelbarrow race emceed by Wavy Gravy, American entertainer and activist for peace at the annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival.

Vendana Shiva, Indian scholar, environmental activist, and anti-globalization author receiving a Sustie Award at the EcoFarm Conference.


Ecological agriculture and healthy food pioneers Michael Ableman and Alice Waters receiving Sustie Awards at the annual EcoFarm Conference.



EcoFarm Tour of Van Dyke Ranch, renowned fifth generation California family farm specializing in organic dried fruit.


Ken Dickerson, former EcoFarm Executive Director and longtime active EcoFarm activist, volunteer, contributor, and wearer of many hats.

  • 2010: 30th Anniversary of the EcoFarm Conference, a regularly sold-out gathering of 1600+ farmers, retailers, processors, consumers, and advocates.


  • 2014: The EcoFarm Conference grows to nearly 1900 attendees - making it the largest (and oldest) ecological farming conference in the West.