Organic Advisory Board


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Organic Advisory Board

Program Manager: Brenda Book
Contact information

Advisory Board Information and Contacts

The WSDA Organic Advisory Board was established in 1987 to advise WSDA concerning the implementation of the WSDA Organic Program. The Organic Advisory Board consists of organic farmers, processors, handlers and other interested parties that meet 3-4 times a year to discuss the Organic Program and recommend policy to the WSDA Organic Program.

Below you will find applications, contact information and general information regarding the Organic Advisory Board. If you have any questions please contact Brenda Book, Organic Program Manager at (360) 902-2090 or email.

Advisory Board Meetings are open to the public. Contact our office for details about upcoming meetings.


Members

Aaron Avila

GS Long Company Inc.
Industry Supporter - Materials/Inputs

With 25 years of experience in the Washington agricultural industry, Aaron works for G.S. Long Company in Yakima, WA. G.S. Long Company is a privately owned crop consulting and supply company with locations in both Yakima and Wenatchee, WA and Hood River, OR. They have been in business over 35 years specializing in all aspects Tree Fruit, Hop, Wine Grape, and Berry production. Aaron lives in the Yakima Valley with his wife and two sons.

Steve Branch

Zirkle Fruit Company
Handler/Grower - Tree Fruit, South Central WA

Steve works for Zirkle Fruit, one of the largest organic fruit growers in Washington State. Zirkle Fruit has been a family run business for over 50 years with a deep commitment to their community, employees, and Organic principles. Zirkle Fruit grows and packs Organic apples, blueberries, cherries, pears, and wine grapes throughout central Washington. Steve is responsible for orchard compliance including food safety and organic compliance at the orchards, packinghouses, and winery. He lives in Yakima, WA with his wife and three children.

Nolan Empey

Empey Orchards
Grower - Apples Eastern WA

Nolan is President and CEO of Empey Orchards, Inc. which is a third-generation family farming operation located in the Columbia Basin of Eastern Washington. Their operation has been producing organic apples, apricots, and cherries since 2006. Their family also produces a line of sparkling apple ciders. Nolan is passionate about family farms and organic production. Nolan and his wife Jennifer have raised 5 daughters and enjoy their 11 grandchildren.

David Granatstein

Washington State University
Research & Education - Extension

David has been with the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources in Wenatchee since 1992. He spends a large share of his time on organic agriculture issues, including producing statistics on organic agriculture in Washington and field studies of organic orchard floor management. He organized the International Organic Fruit Symposium in 2012 and posted the presentations on-line for others to learn from. David is also involved in research and extension on soil quality.

John Hyer

Challenger Farm/Desert Ridge Produce
Grower - Vegetables/Grain Eastern WA; Handler

John and his brother have been farming organically in the Columbia Basin since 1997. Their primary crops are potatoes, onions, green peas, sweet corn, carrots, and small grains. In addition to the farming operation they also operate an organic packing facility. They are now training the next generation in their organic farming methods.

Nate Lewis

Oyster Bay Farm
Organic Farmer

Nate and his wife own and operate Oyster Bay Farm, an organic diversified crop and livestock operation on the shores of Puget Sound in Olympia, WA. They raise organic eggs, broilers, mixed fruits and vegetables and grass fed lamb and beef. Their farm has been preserved as a working farm in perpetuity thanks to a county grant to extinguish development rights and grant an agricultural conservation easement on the property. Nate currently also works as a private consultant on organic related policy and regulatory matters for the organic trade. He previously held the positions of Farm Policy Director at the Organic Trade Association and Certification Coordinator with WSDA’s Organic Food Program. Nate holds a bachelor of science from The Evergreen State College with a focus in agricultural science and organic chemistry.

Gary Middleton

Middleton Organic Orchards
Grower - Tree Fruit/Berries SE Washington

Gary is Owner and President of Middleton Organic Orchards. Gary is a 4th generation farmer whose family homesteaded the Columbia Basin in 1954. Middleton Orchards currently grows organic apples, cherries and blueberries in Southeast Washington. Gary transitioned from carrots and asparagus in 1995 to orchard and has been farming organically since 1999. Gary has been very active over the years representing up to 5 or more commodity board and organizations yearly.

Bridget Milligan

Puget Consumer Co-op Community Markets
Handler-Retailer

Bridget Milligan has had a long career working in the retail food industry, both in the private and public sector. Currently, she holds the position of Food Safety Manager for Puget Consumer Co-op Community Markets (PCC). Working in the Operations Department for PCC, she develops standard operating procedures, and provides training and guidance where food safety and organic standards are concerned. Other related experience includes bachelor of science in nutrition, working in Environmental Health as a Health Inspector, teaching Quantity Food Production and ServSafe certification at the university level, and many years of working as a cook and manager of food businesses.

Brendon J. O'Shea

Organically Grown Company
Handler-Organic Produce

Brendon has worked for his local community since 2003. In 2017, he began working with Organically Grown Company. For the 13 years prior, he worked with local & regional family farms through the Port Townsend Food Co-op. He participates in the Jefferson LandWorks Collaborative, which assists area farmers with land acquisitions, market development and financing.

Marisol Oviedo

Northwest Horticultural Council
Industry Support-Tree Fruit

Marisol works for the Northwest Horticultural Council (NHC) in Yakima, WA. The NHC represents growers, packers, and shippers of apples, pears, and cherries both conventional and organic, in the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington on regulatory issues of federal and international policy.

Andy Ross

Skagit Flats Farm
Grower - Vegetables Western WA

Andy grows organic fresh market vegetables on 20 acres west of Mount Vernon in the Skagit Valley. His main crops are lettuce, summer squash, winter squash, red cabbage and bush beans. Through selling all of his produce wholesale he has found a way to make a good living on his small acreage. Andy hopes to see small scale farming play a larger role in our future food system - attracting new farmers who approach it as a viable business rather than just a temporary life style.

Eiko Vojkovich

Skagit River Ranch
Grower - Livestock

Eiko Vojkovich is the co-owner of Skagit River Ranch. She and her husband, George, raise and sell Certified Organic Grass-Fed Beef (Angus & Wagyu), Organic Pork, Chicken and Eggs. Along with daily farm chores, Eiko is also in charge of the farm's marketing and financing. She holds an MBA degree from the University of Washington.

Dean Wesen

Wesen Organic Dairy
Grower - Livestock

Dean is a fourth generation dairy farmer from Bow, Wa. His family started dairying in 1908 at his present location. They bought the neighboring farm in 2006 and started producing for Organic Valley in 2007. He has since converted his home place to organic production as well. Dean lives in Bow, Washington with his wife and two sons.

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