Whether you’re an independent retailer or part of a large chain, you are a vital member of the organic community. The Organic Summit, which takes place Sept. 21 from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hilton Baltimore Hotel, in conjunction with Natural Products Expo East, offers you a unique opportunity to participate in a focused dialogue on behalf of your store.

Along with retailers, the Organic Summit brings together thought leaders in farming, manufacturing and academia, as well as members of trade associations, nongovernmental organizations and organic-certifying agencies.

This year’s program will differ from previous years’ in order to give attendees a better opportunity to join conversations surrounding the 2011 theme “Moving Organic Forward.” The summit kicks off with breakfast, followed by presentations on four areas of action: Engaging Biotech, Engaging the Next Generation of Organic Farmers, the 2012 Farm Bill and NewHope360 Future of Wellness: Access to Organic Across the Nation.

After the presentations, attendees will join a working group tied to one of the areas of action and discuss their ideas for how to move organics forward. Each group will then share those ideas with the other groups.

The day concludes with an invitation for attendees to sign the Organic Summit “Declaration of Inter-Dependence” to pledge commitment to the solutions discussed during the summit and to be held accountable as we check progress throughout the year.

Participation in the Organic Summit lets you take the lead on timely initiatives and be recognized as a contributor to the organic movement. You can register in advance at theorganicsummit.com or on-site at the Hilton. Your Organic Summit badge also allows you access to Expo East.

Jody Mason is conference manager for the Organic Summit.