(April 30) To keep pace with expanding organic acreage, California Certified Organic Farmers has made some changes.

The Santa Cruz-based organic certifier and advocacy group introduced an expedited certification service in January, moved to a larger office in March, and hired an assistant executive director in April, said Viella Shipley, marketing director.

“We’ve had a 16% growth in clients and a 35% growth in certified acreage in the past year,” Shipley said. “We’re really ramping up.”

From 1990 to 2006, CCOF’s certified acreage grew from 36,000 to nearly 352,000 acres, Shipley said, and the number of clients increased from 528 in 1995 to 1,523.

Demand for certification also has increased, which is why CCOF decided to start offering expedited shipping in January. Clients who choose expedited certification pay an additional $700 fee to jump to the front of the line but receive the same inspections and are subject to the same certification requirements as other certifications.

The service is designed for clients that may not have planned to certify as quickly as they need to or who may be approaching the annual deadline for their certification quicker than they anticipated, Shipley said.

To free up executive director Peggy Miars for more advocacy work on behalf of the organization, CCOF hired Steve Lustgarden as its assistant executive director in late April.