California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross Selected as "Grow Local OC" Conference Premier Keynote

CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, who has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and in California, will be the keynote speaker at the Grow Local OC conference in November. The conference will promote the latest programs, policies and ideas about developing and sustaining local food programs in cities across the U.S.
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The 'Grow Local OC Conference' takes place Nov. 10 - 11 at Cal State Fullerton
The 'Grow Local OC Conference' takes place Nov. 10 - 11 at Cal State Fullerton
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. - June 23, 2016 - PRLog -- Organizers of the Grow Local OC Conference: The Future of Urban Food Systems today announced Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, as the opening keynote speaker for the two-day event.

Presented by Seedstock in partnership with the Orange County Food Access Coalition, the conference is scheduled for November 10-11 at California State University, Fullerton, and is designed to foster the growth of a sustainable local food and agriculture system that benefits the community, environment and economy within Orange County and serve as a template for communities across the country.

Secretary Ross is passionate about improving the access of all California citizens to healthy, nutritious, California-grown agricultural products, and fostering the reconnection of consumers to the land and the people who produce their food. As a leader in supporting the development of strong local and regional food systems in California, she will discuss food access and security in the state, the economic and community development potential of urban agriculture, and the path forward to create a more equitable and sustainable food system in Orange County and the region.

Secretary Ross was appointed Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture on January 12, 2011, by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Secretary Ross has deep leadership experience in agricultural issues nationally, internationally, and here in California. Prior to joining CDFA, Secretary Ross was chief of staff for U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a position she accepted in 2009. Prior to that appointment, she served as President of the California Association of Winegrape Growers from 1996-2009, and as Vice-President of the Agricultural Council of California from 1989-1996. Before moving to California, Secretary Ross served as Director of Government Relations for the Nebraska Rural Electric Association and as Field Representative for U.S. Senator Edward Zorinsky.

Secretary Ross has strengthened partnerships across government, academia and the non-profit sector in the drive to maintain and improve environmental stewardship and to develop adaptation strategies for the specific impacts of climate change. She has initiated programs to provide greater opportunities for farmers and ranchers to engage in sustainable environmental stewardship practices through water conservation, energy efficiency, nutrient management and ecosystem services.

Secretary Ross grew up as a 4-H kid on a farm in western Nebraska. She and her husband, Barry, own 800 acres of the family farm where her younger brother, a fourth-generation farmer, grows dryland wheat, feed grains and cattle. The Secretary has a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a graduate of the Nebraska Ag Leadership Program. She has served on numerous boards and committees in California agriculture and with various academic institutions.

The multi-day Grow Local OC conference will address an array of topics, including: the community and economic development opportunities in urban food systems; Improving Health Outcomes by tackling food access challenges; Innovation in Urban Agriculture and Local Food Production; and, creating new farming enterprises and food businesses.

For additional information and to purchase early bird tickets, please visit

For sponsorship opportunities, please send inquiries to: sponsor [at] growlocaloc [dot] com. If you are interested in participating as a conference speaker, please send your request to: participant [at] seedstock [dot] com.


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About Seedstock:

Seedstock is a social venture that fosters the development of robust and sustainable local food systems through consulting services and the use of a variety of tools, including the news and information blog Seedstock ( and live events. Seedstock works with government agencies, municipalities and all private sector stakeholders to create a sustainable food ecosystem of innovation, entrepreneurship and investment.

About OC Food Access Coalition:

At OC Food Access (, we are developing innovative, community-based strategies to end hunger and deliver nutrition - not just calories - to the underserved in our community.

The Coalition was founded in 2010 in response to a call for county-wide coordinated action among hunger, health and food systems stakeholders. Together we work to define the gaps in services and resources that prevent healthy food access, and ultimately help define and implement sustainable solutions to hunger.


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