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Organic Business Leadership Course

A renewed program of the Organic Business Leadership Academy (OBLA) will start in the spring of 2024. In addition to facilitating Basic and Advanced Leadership Courses, the OBLA offers a knowledge platform and a networking environment for everyone with a passion for and interest in the organic movement, organic entrepreneurship, collaboration, and sustainability.

The OBLA is organized by international trainers, experts, and guest lecturers from the organic sector and beyond. Since 2019, Starfish Organic and Timeli have facilitated several organic leadership courses for people and companies working in the organic (international) market that wanted to enrich their knowledge about organic.

In 2013, Ronald van Marlen (Timeli) himself participated in the international Organic World Leadership Academy of IFOAM, guided by IFOAM trainer Konrad Hauptfleisch. There was no specific leadership program for the Dutch organic sector at the time. Ronald and Konrad have therefore joined forces to develop the OBLA specifically for the Dutch organic sector.

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Why do we offer this course?

In recent months we have seen the Organic Movement return to the organic sector. That's important, because there's more than enough reason to start moving! Why? Below are the 5 most important reasons:

  1. The GMO lobby
    The organic sector is challenged and even threatened in its right to exist. We must arm ourselves against an unprecedented GMO lobby, which could pose an existential threat to us as an organic sector.

  2. The glyphosate extension
    Despite concerns about risks to nature and human and animal health, the permit for the use of agricultural poison glyphosate has been extended for 10 years. At the same time, the organic sector is confronted with stricter rules and controls.

  3. Corporate Greenwashing
    We now see that corporate greenwashing got their foot in the (political) door by introducing regenerative agriculture as the next and new fairy tale.

  4. Growth in organic remains promising, but is no reality yet
    We are still seeing too little of the EU and Dutch ambitions to substantially increase organic agriculture by 2030. However, many companies experience uncertainty about short-term organic market profits.

  5. The climate crisis
    Last year was both the hottest and wettest year ever for the Netherlands. In other words, the climate crisis rages on and confronts us with disasters after disasters. Even though organic agriculture has a resilient model that serves as an example for the necessary sustainability of agriculture, EU and Dutch ambitions to increase organic agriculture have not yet been realized.

In other words, the organic sector is facing a challenging time. In the process of reflecting on these questions and dilemmas, we believe that the organic sector should play a stronger leading role.

This course is intended for those who are convinced of a connected and strong movement. For those who want to play a leading role in the organic movement, now and in the future.
But also for those who are already active in organic cultivation and/or trade and want to expand their knowledge, expertise and network in organic.

What do we want to achieve?

The aim of the course is to reflect on and develop leadership in the organic movement. The organic sector needs people who can represent and promote the organic values and principles, challenge the persistent myths being spread about organic and do so with leadership and authority.


What are you going to learn?

In 5 afternoons, OBLA participants are guided in deepening knowledge about the history of organic agriculture and reflecting on the future of organic agriculture. Each course offers 50% knowledge transfer and 50% interactive group work in smaller groups.

Study material and certificate

For some sessions, participants are expected to prepare short assignments. A selection of additional literature used in the different sessions, such as research, essays, scientific articles and reports, will be distributed via WeTransfer after each meeting. At the end of this course, participants will receive an official Certificate, signed by the trainers of the Organic Business Leadership Academy.


After this leadership course you will be able to:

  • Represent and promote the organic movement;

  • Take on your role as part of a leadership collective within the organic sector, where you know how to involve and inspire other organic colleagues;

  • Challenge the most common and persistent myths about organic;

  • Critically reflect on the organic movement, trade and the role of the market;

  • Contribute and support the further development of leadership of and within the organic movement.

Where and when?

Where & when

The spring course is held in the Kraaybeekerhof in DriebergenThe program for the (re)new(ed) OBLA 2024 spring edition is as follows:

Please note: Every day, except the last session on May 15, we have walk-ins at 11:30 AM, we start our work at 12:00 PM and end at 5:00 PM.

On May 15 we start early with walk-in at 10:00 am.


1. April 10, 2024 - Introduction to the why, how and what of organic:

  • We reflect on our history, our inspiring pioneers, the principles and practices of organic farming.

  • We introduce the framework for the coming weeks: organic farming in the context of real sustainability in food and agricultural systems.

2. April 17, 2024 - Organic and the economic dimension:

  • We analyze the organic market, discussing recent trends in both the EU and global organic markets.

  • We consider the diversity of organic farming systems in the context of global trade, equity and processes of market consolidation.

  • We discuss the organic principle of 'fairness' in relation to the economic system and think about how organic can lead the way in developing globally fair-trading relationships

3. April 24, 2024 - Organic and the social dimension:

  • We reflect together on the two organic principles of 'fairness' and 'care'.

  • We analyze socio-cultural diversity and power relations in both the Dutch and the global organic sector.

  • We look at the impact of social sustainability in the value chains as part of organic policy.


4. May 8, 2024 - Organic and the ecological dimension:

  • We learn about organic and the climate crisis: where does the organic sector stand?

  • We will continue to build alliances and (re)build an organic movement.

  • We focus on true three-fold sustainability: Planet, People, Profit: checks and balances.


5. May 15, 2024 - Organic (and) leadership

Please note: We have an early start - 10am walk-in, we work from 10:30am to 5pm. This session includes a lunch break provided by the OBLA at 1:00 PM.

  • Participants will work on developing action plans to strengthen organic leadership. Leadership involvement is central here.

  • OBLA alumni from previous years join to guide and reflect on organic leadership.

What are the costs?


In previous years, the costs were €1,250 excluding VAT per participant. This year, this course is being offered for the first time based on the principle: you contribute what you can spare prior to the Academy. The OBLA is free for students. We do not want the costs for this course to be an obstacle to participating.

What do you get in return?

The OBLA includes 5 days of workshops, all presentations in PDF, articles and study materials prior to the course, in-depth articles and papers after each course, and an official certificate of completion upon successful completion of the course and course work. Coffee, tea, water and snacks are also included during the five sessions, but a full lunch is not provided. Don't forget to arrange this yourself before or during the breaks. Because the last session has a longer program, lunch will be offered to all OBLA participants during this afternoon.


Questions? Email us at  

How do you apply?


Interested to join? You can directly apply here.

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Group 2022

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