30: Bob Scowcroft, co-founder of Organic Farming Research Foundation


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If you thought you heard sustainable ag history stories, make sure you listen to this one.

In this week’s episode, Bob Scowcroft talks with our host Ron Kroese about the beginning of his sustainable agriculture career. Then, next week, Bob will be joined by Mark Lipson to continue the conversation.

Bob begins by telling us about his early golf career. Then, while in college he was bit by the travel bug—on one trip, he and several others traveled in a VW van through Canada to California for a Grateful Dead concert—they were a day late and missed the show. He took trips to Africa, Alaska, and he ultimately worked in California, D.C., Alaska, and back to California.

He talks about the famous organic report that was smuggled out of the USDA by Garth Youngberg and others. He talks about his fight against pesticides. Then, his campaign for organics and the battles against not-so-honest producers.

But, that is not all. Bob circles back to the Grateful Dead at the end of this episode. Tune in to hear more. Then, make sure you download next week’s podcast for the rest of the story.


About Bob Scowcroft: He has successfully transitioned from a "retirement" state of mind into a more active composition of consultant, volunteer, and advocacy oriented activities. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Nell Newman Foundation and sits on four nonprofit advisory boards.

He previously served as Executive Director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, a national organization, based in Santa Cruz, California. It was co-founded by Bob and two certified organic farmers in 1990. In the nearly 20 years Bob directed OFRF, it awarded over $2,400,000 in support of over 320 organic research and education projects. The results of which were shared with over 15,000 organic farmers and ranchers throughout North America.

During Bob's tenure, OFRF had an active policy, research, and publishing program, and it disseminated information on all sectors of the organic product industry to the public at large. Bob averaged 200 media interviews and over 15 conference presentations on all subjects "organic" annually.

He sat on five non-governmental organizations (NGO) advisory boards. He resigned and retired from OFRF at the end of 2010.

Prior to working for OFRF, he was the first full time Executive Director of California Certified Organic Farmers (1987-1992); before that he served in the Friends of the Earth's San Francisco office as their national organizer with a primary focus on pesticide reduction and organic farming advocacy (1979-1985).

The interview was conducted on Dec. 15, 2016.

Links this episode:
National Sustainable Agriculture Oral History Archive (video link)
Organic Farming Research Foundation
California Certified Organic Farmers
Friends of the Earth


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