EcoFarm 2018

I recently participated in the 2018 annual EcoFarm Conference. Over the last 34 years I’ve presented at this conference many times, and it’s always a pleasure to be a part of an event EcoFarm describes as “a convergence of all sectors invested in building a healthy food system and world” ( This conference, as usual, was full of amazing organic farmers, ranchers, and their supporters.

Along with Maija West, a business attorney (, I led a large group discussion on Communication and Legal Strategies for Farm & Ranch Stakeholders. We were excited to use a new format with participants: role-playing a family meeting!

We started this “family” meeting as I typically do, with a moment of silence followed by an opportunity for everyone to share their voice for a moment. Next we established guidelines and ground rules for the meeting, which I’ve found to be critical to focus on immediately. No matter how well educated or well mannered a family may be, they can always benefit from guidelines and ground rules, which lay a solid foundation to build upon and create effective communication.

Roles were reversed for the participants in our exercise. The younger participant got to take on the role of the father, and the older participant played the part of the son. It was rewarding to hear how the reversal helped them see each other’s perspectives, and the exercise was action packed!

If you’re interested in participating in a workshop with me, I have two Succession Planning Workshops coming up in the next few months. One is in Half Moon Bay on February 26 (with Peninsula Open Space Trust and California FarmLink), and one is in Santa Cruz on March 20 (with Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and California FarmLink). Check my Events page as the dates approach and you’ll find all the details there.

Need an expert to present and/or lead a workshop? Email me at I’d love to work with you!