Thursday, June 23, 2011

Why Aren't We CERTIFIED Organic?

The short answer is that we basically are organic. We use no chemical pesticides or herbicides. Our primary defense against insects is growing healthy plants and hand-picking. Our defenses against weeds are mulching in our smaller space on raised beds. In our crop field we plowed in the winter to freeze Bermuda grass roots, cover cropped, hand-weed, and cultivate between rows. We use no synthetic fertilizer. We run our chickens over rows in the winter in "chicken tractors". We cover crop and till in this green manure. We spread manure from OUR farm animals on our beds. We have a giant compost pile.

So why aren't we certified? We think what we are doing is good enough, and we hope you will take our word for it. Or better yet - come visit and see for yourselves! We don't want to spend 5x the price for certified organic cover crop seed to be mailed to us when we can pick up untreated seed at Coop. We also germinate most of our seed, but peppers don't do well for us. We buy little pepper plants locally - usually at Farmers' Coop. These little transplants aren't certified organic, so we can't be certified either.

We buy our garden seed from a few companies - primarily FedCo and Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. This later company offers some seed that is certified organic, but some that isn't. Regardless, none of their seed has been treated (with insecticides) and none is GMO. That's good enough for us.

None of the vegetables you buy from us will ever have been sprayed with anything - ever. Not even organically certified sprays. Some of the organic sprays are broad-sepctrum - meaning they impact both nuisance insects and beneficial insects. And what about insect-eating birds, such as the kingbirds that eat bugs in our garden? I'm not sure. We paint squash bugs eggs (on the leaves) with brignt nail polish, which keeps them from hatching. This isn't approved by organic standards, but we think it's okay. We also occasionally spray a bug infestation (the bugs, not the squash) with water & dishsoap. We use about 1 tsp. soap per 2 qt. spray bottle. I figure this is okay too. Heck, I use the stuff on my dishes and my food touches that.

It'd be great to slap the magic word on our market stall sign (*organic*). But it's not worth it right now. And we can't use the magic word unless we pay the man for his okay. That kinda ruffles our all-natural feathers. We know what we are. And now you do too.

To learn more about what organic is and isn't, visit the Kerr Center: We are in support of the organic. So much so that we do all the work without the credit. As found on the Kerr website, organic growing is about a cultural system based on natural principles. It is about building a fertile living soil and an environment that supports the healthy growth of plants and natural biological control - a situation where synthetic pesticides and fertilizers is unneccesary - even counter productive.

1 comment:

  1. I called the guy at ODAFF a few weeks ago to talk with him about certifying our farm and found out that our greenhouse was going to be a problem because we purchased a USED greenhouse and re-used the USED boards along the bottom and they were treated wood. This, in spite of the fact that we grow everything in POTS and up on tables in our greenhouse and NOTHING touches those boards. (And they're old enough to have probably leached out whatever they're going to leach anyway.) What's done is done and I was expecting a worst-case scenario of a 3-year transition time, but now I think we'll just give up. It's all so ridiculous....not common sense at all.