Representatives of College of Business attended Organic Grower Summit 2022

Leslie Boni at Organic Grower Summit 2022

College of Business associate professor, Leslie Boni, at Organic Grower Summit 2022

December 19, 2022

The Organic Grower Summit is an annual gathering that began in 2017 to connect organic growers and producers with supply chain and service providers. Its latest iteration happened Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 in Monterey, with speakers, presentations, and more than 70 exhibitors.  

Matt Seeley is one of the founders of the summit. 

“It became clear there was a need for an event that brought together the growers of organic fresh produce — the boots on the ground, if you will — with their supply chain and service provider partners,” Seeley says. “Essentially those involved with everything from seeds, biopesticides, ag tech, food safety, etc., connecting with those actually producing crops.”

He describes the event as “West Coast-centric” given the amount of organic produce that is grown here. He says the lion’s share of the summit’s attendees are from California. 

Representatives from CSUMB’s College of Business — including Dean Marylou Shockley, Professor Leslie Boni and Associate Professor Xiaotong Liu, and MBA Associate Director Susan Harker — attended and staffed a table in the exhibition hall. 

“Our goal was to use this opportunity to build awareness for our Agribusiness Supply Chain Management [ASCM] major that we plan to launch in Fall 2024, as well as showcase CSUMB and the College of Business,” said Shockley. 

They provided attendees with fliers, as well as an annual report and other materials for the college. She says that attendees reacted positively, and were interested in employees and internships. 

“However, we really had attendees dropping by to hear about CSUMB as well as our other programs,” Shockley says. “For example, some of them were interested in the MBA program and wanted to continue their own education. Others wanted to know how to advise their kids on applying to college.”

Although the summit is designed for commercial trade interaction, the visibility that CSUMB gained helped raise awareness and reinforce to the ag community that the university is part of the network. Tom Shepherd, one of the college’s partners and donors for the ASCM program, made the suggestion that Shockley work with Matt Seeley. 

Seeley sees CSUMB as an important component in the industry. 

“As the world of organics continues to evolve and change, our future rests with the next generation to continue forging ahead with the tenants of organic production — providing healthy, nutritious, and safe foods, while being the best possible stewards of the land and environment,” he says. 

The summit was presented by the Organic Produce Network, founded by Seeley and Tonya Antle to provide information and connection across the organic supply chain; as well as Western Growers, a group of local and regional growers that provide over half the nation's fresh fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts, and nearly half of America's fresh organic produce.