California Certified Organic Farmers. | Watsonville, CA
Scientist | January, 2012 – January, 2017
Zea Sonnabend is currently a policy specialist and an organic farm inspector for CCOF. She and a partner have a small farm, Fruitilicious Farm, featuring apples, blueberries and other tree fruit. After joining the organic movement as a small farmer in 1982, she became involved in writing the first certification handbook and materials list for CCOF, one of the first published lists of allowed materials. CCOF joined with Oregon Tilth to jointly review materials, both generic and formulated products in the late 1980's and this led to the creation of a national materials list for OFPANA (now known as the Organic Trade Association) and the forming of the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), of which Zea was a founding Board member.
In 1993 she was asked to train the new NOSB in materials review. This led to several years as a contractor for the NOP/NOSB to the Technical Reviews to establish the first National List. She continues to work with OMRI, CCOF and the NOSB to achieve thorough, scientific and transparent materials review procedures and decisions.
Zea has a Master’s degree in Plant Breeding from Cornell University. During her career she has been an organic farmer and gardener, sold produce as both a retailer and a wholesaler, taught gardening and farming at many levels, and inspected hundreds of diverse and beautiful organic farms. She coordinated the Ecological Farming Conference at Asilomar for 15 years, and serves on the Board of the Organic Seed Alliance. She has participated in a number of task forces and working groups, such as the Materials Working Group, the California Invasive Species Advisory Council, the OMRI Review Panel, and the OTA Mexico Task Force.