So...why starfish?

The Starfish Story

It was February 2012, and I was packing and saying goodbye to friends and family. My work in organic agriculture development in Africa resulted in an offer to share my skills on the global stage.

This was a logical culmination of 7 years working in Southern, East and West Africa with farmers, consumers, traders and politicians: arguing, cajoling, and connecting. Gathering information from experts and inspiration from mentors. Using my skills as teacher, performer, entrepreneur and crafter to support the development of organic agriculture across the fascinating continent.

I realised a fundamental truth about the world and my place in it – I needed to connect as widely as possible, with a diversity of committed people who want to change things by not following the conventional approach to growth, development and influence.

As the cliché goes: It can no longer be business as usual. We need to change the way we grow, distribute and consume. And everyone who could, should get involved in this endeavour. As sad as it was to leave my home, I was looking forward to support a global groundswell of organic-minded people, looking to inspire fundamental and sustainable change.

Konrad Hauptfleisch

Konrad Hauptfleisch

Founder & Lead Trainer / Consultant


Participatory Training

Face to face with farmers
Bordi Beach, India 2012

Participatory Training

Discussing regenerative agriculture systems with young leaders, Somerset, England 2019

A Star(fish) is born

While packing, I was also reading The Starfish and the Spider, a book by Ori Brafman and Rod Beckstrom that shares insights on the power of leaderless organisations. (Read it, if you have the time – you will understand a lot more about what makes me tick!)

In March 2012, I joined the fledgling Academy at IFOAM-Organics International. A month later, I was in India, conducting the first of over 20 Organic Leadership Courses I facilitated on behalf of IFOAM. In every one of them, I told the story of the Starfish and the Spider. It became synonymous with me and my work in the sector.

In 2020, in the middle of COVID, I decided to catch a better wave, and launch my own training and consultancy company. After 8 great years of building the Organic Academy, the name for my new venture was obvious: Starfish Organic.


Meeting farmers in Northern Luzon, Philippines

In action at Biofach Nürnberg

The Starfish Community of Practice

Just like the starfish’s simplicity drives its resilience and regenerative capabilities, small and unconventional startups disrupt systems created by larger corporations. As an independent, flexible, and adaptive training and consultancy initiative, we share insights in our own unique way, empowering local change through global knowledge and experience.

For the past 15 years, I’ve had the privilege of not only training and consulting worldwide, but also learning from dynamic innovators. Together, we now form a global community of practitioners, able to deliver locally appropriate, globally-inspired service and expertise in training and consultancy. Our skills span the diverse scope of organic agriculture: policy development, standards, local market structures, and organisational development.

With a highly skilled and dynamic network of facilitators and advisors, we excel both in-person and virtually. Our independence allows us to collaboratively co-create content with diverse global partners, fostering innovation and expertise in service delivery.

Together, we offer:

  • Training on all aspects of organic agriculture
  • Event moderation and facilitation – physical, virtual or hybrid.
  • Comprehensive training on organic policy development and advocacy strategy.
  • Introductory and in-depth training on regulation and standards development, with a specific focus on Participatory Guarantee Systems .
  • Guidance on local organic food systems development, from farm to fork.
  • New content and curriculum development.
Consultancy Icon


We offer comprehensive consultancy services, collaborating with a global network of young, dedicated, and highly skilled experts. Our expertise spans policy advice, standards development, knowledge systems, and more.

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Training lies at the core of Starfish Organic. We have earned a distinguished global reputation for our excellence in training, facilitation, and participatory learning approaches.


Organic Business Leadership Course

Organic is different for a reason. And organic business leaders need to think differently. At the Organic Business Leadership Academy, we help you find your organic differentiator. Join us for our 4th OBLC in the Netherlands this autumn – connect with other leaders, refresh your organic knowledge, rethink your business approach and refine your strategic direction.

Founder, Lead Trainer and Consultant

Konrad Hauptfleisch

Konrad has extensive experience in management, consultancy, leadership development, training, and facilitation – all aimed at realizing human potential.

He specializes in the field of organic agriculture and sustainable food and farming systems, and has successfully engaged with individuals from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds due to his remarkable skill set developed from years of working in production, operational, and program management positions.

Konrad has supported the development of organic agriculture in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, and has led organizations and mentored staff in various capacities. His work experience in such a diversity of regions and communities has given him a practical and unique approach to international training, consultancy and development work.

Konrad Hauptfleisch