Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why Stop With Organic

The Federal Organic Standards have encouraged agriculture in some positive directions. At a minimum it gets the chemicals and GMOs out of the system and that is a very positive step in the right direction.

But why do we want to stop with just the minimum requirement?

On our farm we have gone beyond organic.

What does this mean?

  1. We use compost as a major part of our fertility program to build soil biology and organic matter, and sequester carbon even in a vegetable growing cropping environment. We aren't feeding the plants we are feeding the trillions of micro organisms in the soil and they live in a symbiotic relationship with the root systems of our crops. We supplement the compost with kelp, fish emulsion, rock powders and a small amount of highly mineralized salts.
  2. We are localvores and serve local families at our farmer's market. The majority of our produce is sold within 10-15 miles of the farm. Industrial agriculture whether conventional or organic cannot deliver the same quality and freshness.
  3. We rotate crops to prevent pests and diseases. We have birds and lots of forest edge to provide pest management. Organic and chemical rescue sprays are never used  (and they are never needed). We never have a large monoculture, we have small ecologically balanced plots that are rotated each year. For example, we can grow organic sweet corn without pests by using a virgin area each year and sweet corn is one of the most highly sprayed crops in agriculture (we don't need to spray at all).
  4. We use the natural distinctiveness of micro climates. For example, we would never till our riparian areas near the river but we would consider growing woody perennials like red osier dogwood and on the steep rock transition areas to the Oak Savannas we would consider fruit trees or bitter sweet which are their natural habitat but are highly sought after products.
  5. We are adapting open pollinated varieties to local climatic conditions. Especially tomatoes, shallots and garlic. More can be done here.
  6. We are not satisfied with average either in the organic or conventional agriculture. We are looking for orders of magnitude better water use, carbon retention, soil preservation, excellent management practices, highest quality produce,and best non-GMO genetics.
  7. We are involved with our community, we participate at our local farmers market and several 100 families depend on us for a portion of their food. We buy local as much as possible and the food dollars spent with us are cycled back into the local community. Ask Trader Joes where your food dollars go?
  8. We look for the best of the oldest and newest ideas. For example, I bought a wheel hoe this year, which is a farm tool from the late 1800's. But this wheel hoe is far from your grandmothers wheel hoe. It had about a dozen attachments for everything from a very versatile seed planter to multiple tillage tools. Turns out that human tillage and weed control is one of the most efficient.
  9. We engage our customers and the public with information on how their food is grown, how to select it and how to use it.

No comments:

Post a Comment