GBC team shares Chef School Gold Organic Campus journey at the annual Guelph Organic Conference

Main Content

At Canada’s longest-running organic conference, a team from George Brown College showcased sustainable innovation underway at the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts (CHCA). 

A team representing the Honours Bachelor of Food Studies program was invited to present at the 2024 Guelph Organic Conference in January. Professor Dr. Lori Stahlbrand, Joey Ma, Operations Manager of CHCA’s Inventory Control Centre (ICC), and four students hosted a session called “The Designated Organic Campus Project.” Project partners also participated, including colleagues from the Canada Organic Trade Association and CHCA’s distributor, Pfennings Organic Vegetables.  

In September 2023, the Chef School became the first in Canada to be designated a Gold Organic Campus by the Canada Organic Trade Association. Dr. Stahlbrand and then-second-year Food Studies students led the effort by working with the ICC to significantly ramp up the amount of certified organic produce delivered weekly to more than 300 culinary classes. 

Dr. Stahlbrand said the conference presentation attracted a good crowd and generated media coverage. 

“It was a great opportunity for the students to learn more about organic agriculture and organic food and to understand what they’ve accomplished within a larger context of the organic sector,” she said. 

“People attending the conference who were part of the organic sector were very excited to learn that George Brown had achieved this designation.” 

The Food Studies team also had a table at the conference promoting the degree program — the first of its kind in Canada. In the program, students develop culinary techniques while examining challenges facing food systems, focusing on equity, justice, health and sustainability.  

Dr. Stahlbrand built the conference visit into the curriculum to give students a better understanding of the organic sector and its key players. Students who presented at the conference gained valuable real-world experience. 

“The Guelph Organic Conference was an excellent experience with many great guest speakers, sponsors and vendors. For someone who knows little or just the basics about organic farming and food production, this was a fantastic opportunity to gain first-hand new insights and knowledge in real time," Food Studies student Shenice King said. “The conference really showcased that organic food procurement extends far beyond its processes, and that it's really the people who embed and structure these processes that create social impact.” 

Learn more about the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. 

Dr. Lori Stahlbrand, Shenice King, Renae Powell, Maxie Feldman-Taub

Dr. Lori Stahlbrand and Joey Ma