Tuesday, July 10, 2007

What about that word "Organic"

For those of you who live around my farm there was a great article about the black dirt region in the Sunday Times Herald Record, our local daily paper . The article included the statement that my farm is the only certified organic farm in the area. At this point in time my farm is not certified organic. We are Certified Naturally Grown and are applying for organic certification for our farm. We have signed the farmers pledge. We held open house on our farm on June 16th for the members of the public to inspect our farm as to our growing practices.

So what separates us from an organic farmer? Why do we not yet have organic certification on our farm?

We do everything an organic farmer does and more. Thanks to our farming practices our farm has come into a balance that is amazing. Natural predators like lady bugs thrive on our farm and we didn't introduce any to the environment. For our sweet corn we use a predator wasp called trychograma to eat the bugs that none of us like to see in our corn. Our colorado potato beetles and larva are removed by hand - here are pictures of the volunteers who came out to help with this project.

We have struggled with the question of certifying organic for many years now. Customers have begged us not to certify if the cost of the produce will go up. Personally I question how can I certify my farm when I have no clue what is in the water that so frequently floods my land? There is no provision for this as far as I am aware in any of the organic guidelines. Anyone who certifies their farm organic in a region that is composed of wetlands must seriously ponder the ethics in this regard. Anyone who certifies organic, has no buffer zones and farms next to conventional farmer neighbors who arial spray must also seriously ponder the ethics in this issue. Anyone who uses materials from nonorganic sources as a basis for their compost should consider what the consequences of their actions are.

I have given this long consideration and have come to realize that I cannot control the flood waters any more than I can control the acid rain. I can however control what I do and do not do on my farm. Being the only farmer in an area 75% surrounded by land that is either not farmed or owned by farmers who believe in the same philosphies I do makes it easier to carry on the land stewardship practices my family has become known for and is proud to carry on.

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