Organic dl

 

WHY are we a certified organic farm?

There is much discussion these days about what “organic” means and the process of certification. It is impossible to trust that huge corporations hiding behind small farmy names, which are bombarding you with gimmicky marketing ploys want the best for you rather than the largest profit possible. There is the whole question of GMO’s and what they do to our bodies and nature itself and also the issue of how to feed more & more people with less & less farms. Not to mention seeds, food policy & nutritional values. We love having these discussions and feel good about educating people about what we know about growing food and how we do it. Talk to us or email us with any questions or better yet come out and see us sometime!

Without much discussion, here are some of the reasons we choose to be organic

Verena: One of my goals in life is to interact with my environment in a way that                                                      is mutually beneficial. I also want to learn and grow from being on our farm every day and share whatever knowledge I may gain with others who are interested.

As to why we are certified - it’s to inform people that don’t know us, that we use good trustworthy farming practices. The quality of the food people can see and taste for themselves, but sometimes things are not what they seem and you can’t see everything that goes on on a farm, so the certification lets people know that we keep to the organic standards - now all that’s left to do is to explain what that means....(Information on this page will help). I wish, it was the other way around, that farms with unsustainable practices would have inspections with the goal of becoming more sustainable, but we seem to be living in opposite world at this point in time.


AmyThere are many reasons.  First of all let me just say that we would be growing vegetables organically even if we weren't Certified Organic -- in part because it's the only way we know how. We know lots of farmers growing food in sustainable and earth-friendly ways that are not certified - everybody makes the choice they’re most comfortable with. Becoming a Certified Organic farm involves an extensive paper application that must be completed every year in which we must detail all of our growing, harvesting, washing, packaging and marketing methods, as well as any ingredient used in the production of food -- including seeds, potting soil, mulch, compost, soil amendments and cleaning products.  In addition we are required to maintain detailed crop production records throughout the year, an annual on-farm audit and inspection conducted by an independent inspector, and must pay a sizeable application fee.   Some farmers feel the process is too time consuming, too bureaucratic, too expensive, and is ultimately not necessary.  We agree with some of these criticisms and even question our decision to remain certified each year.  But we chose to become certified and remain so because we believe in the Canadian Organic Standards and because we rely on them as consumers.  When buying food from other growers or producers, we look for the Certified Organic logo to assure us that that food contains no GMO ingredients, was produced in a way that is safe for the growers, safe for the earth, and ultimately safe for the consumers.  We believe food should be a source of nourishment, enjoyment and health, not something that can make you sick -- either for the producer or the consumer.


Our customers have told us that they believe us when we say we follow the organic standards, and that we shouldn't need to go through the bother of Organic Certification; but as another farmer friend pointed out, any farmer who claims to be organic without actually becoming Certified, is profiting from the trust and good reputation that has been built by other farmers who created and maintain the Canadian Organic Standards; and when someone claims to 'follow the organic standards' there's no way of knowing exactly what they mean.  How much of the standards do they follow?  Do they source only Certified organic or untreated seeds?  Does it mean that they don't use any pesticides or herbicides?  That's great, but what about GMO ingredients in their animal feed or fertilizer, or in the mulch they use in their garden?  Do they ask the folks they're buying potting soil from for a complete list of ingredients -- and know where all those ingredients come from and what they're used for?  What about the cleaning solutions they use in their greenhouse?  The label may say 'environmentally friendly,' but did they contact the company for an MSDS sheet showing the concentration of cleaning agents present?  We've seen what can happen when companies try to associate themselves with organically grown food by claiming to be 'Green', 'Natural,' or 'Environmentally Friendly'.  Unfortunately, the way one company defines 'natural' may be very different from what you would expect -- and they can do this because there is no agreed-upon definition, so everyone is free to use and abuse these labels as they wish.  But when something is grown and labelled as Certified Organic there is no question, there is no fudging of the definition, and there is no option to follow only part of the organic standards.  There is only one Certified Organic. 


We believe the earth is sacred.  We receive nourishment and support from it every day.  As stewards of the land, we believe we have an obligation and an opportunity to feed the soil and return some of the nourishment we receive to the earth.  We also believe a farm rich in biodiversity is a sign of true health and harmony in nature.  So our goal as farmers is not to destroy or eradicate bugs from our environment, but rather to bring our farm back in to balance by encouraging beneficial insects and animals.  And we know from experience that healthy soil leads to healthy plants, which are in turn less prone to attack from insects and disease.  Furthermore, food grown in healthy soil is healthier for us.  Science has figured out exactly how many pounds of chemical nutrients are required to grow a crop, but simply pumping the plant full of chemicals doesn't necessarily lead to a plant that is full of nutrition that a human body and mind need not only to survive but thrive.  Just like an athlete who is pumped up on steroids may 'look' healthy, we know that they may be suffering from a number of maladies as a direct side-effect of these drugs.  The same is true of our food.


And now for a word about cost.  Most people seem to be of the mindset that 'organic food is just too expensive'.  We've heard this time and again, even from some of our own family members.  But the truth is, there is no such thing as 'cheap food.'  The cost of food had decreased over the last couple of generations, but the quality of the food has decreased right along with it.  We may not be paying as much for food as we used to, but we are paying for it with our health -- just look at the increased rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity throughout North America.  In addition, the price of food may have gone down, but the costs of production have only increased -- sometimes this difference is subsidized by the government, but too often it's the farmer who's forced to pick up the rest of the tab.  If you don't believe me, just ask a beef producer how much they're getting for their meat these days.  Most will tell you it's below what it costs them to raise, feed and shelter the animals.  Is there any wonder why more and more farmers go out of business every year, and why their children aren't interested in taking up the family business?  There seems to be a common mis-conception in our society that farmers shouldn't be paid for their time, labour, or knowledge.  In fact, it's the only profession I can think of where producers hope to just cover their costs of production, but would never think to include their time or labour, let alone including any of the other costs associated with running a business.  But growing food is expensive.  There are lots of costs associated with owning and operating a farm, and as with any other business or industry, those costs should to be shared by the producer AND consumer.  We set the prices of our vegetables based on what it costs us to grow them, including the costs associated with Organic Certification and we believe the quality, flavour and nutritional value of our vegetables makes them worth it.


10 Good Reasons Why Canadians Are Going Organic!


  1. 1.Keep chemicals off your plate — Most herbicides and many insecticides have been found to be carcinogenic or hormone replicators. Organic certification is the public’s assurance that products have been grown and handled according to strict procedures and without persistent toxic chemical inputs.


  1. 2.Organic food tastes great! — It’s common sense - well-balanced soils produce strong, healthy plants that become nourishing food for people and animals. Many chefs choose organic foods because of superior quality and flavour.


  1. 3.Organic farms respect our water resources — The elimination of polluting chemicals and nitrogen leaching, done in combination with soil building, protects and conserves water resources.


  1. 4.Organic farmers build healthy soil — Soil is the foundation of the food chain. The primary focus of organic farming is to use sustainable practices that build healthy soil microbiology and prevent erosion, creating a legacy of safe, fertile land that can provide for future generations.


  1. 5.Organic farmers work in harmony with nature —Organic agricultural respects the balance demanded of a healthy ecosystem, studies have shown there is more bio-diversity around organic farms. The number of species increased about 30% in organic systems and the number of individual plants and animals was 50% greater on organic farms. Diverse wildlife is encouraged by including forage crops in rotation and by retaining hedgerows, wetlands, and other natural areas.


  1. 6.Organic methods reduce pollution and wasted energy — More energy is used to produce synthetic fertilizers than to cultivate and harvest crops. Organic farmers have led the way, largely at their own expense, with innovative on-farm research aimed at minimizing agriculture’s impact on the environment. Canadian studies have shown that organic farming practices can use as little as half the energy of other farming methods, and are not dependent on fossil-fuel fertilizers.


  1. 7.Protect the health of farmers and children — Farmers exposed to herbicides have six more times the risk of contracting cancer compared to non-farmers. The average child receives four times more exposure than an adult to pesticides in food.


  1. 8.Organic producers strive to preserve diversity — The loss of a large variety of species (biodiversity) is one of the most pressing environmental concerns. The good news is that many organic farmers and gardeners have been collecting and preserving seeds, and growing unusual varieties for decades.


  1. 9.Support a true economy — Conventional food pricing encourages chemical farming, but hidden costs include subsidies and environmental damage. Most organic farms are small, independent family operations of less than 100 acres. Keep rural communities healthy, help small and local organic farmers.


  1. 10.Because you can! — Organic products are finally abundant - every food category has an organic alternative, and there are more and more organic textiles, personal care products and non-food items available every day. Let's keep this growing, because it's good for all of us!


WHAT is organic?

ORGANIC production is a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.




The ‘Canada Organic ’ label — is your assurance that the product bearing it has met the Canadian government's regulatory requirements for organic products. To learn more about the Canadian Organic Regulations click here.


Organic production prohibits the use of:

  1. chemical pesticides,

  2. antibiotics1

  3. synthetic hormones,

  4. genetic engineering and other excluded practices,

  5. sewage sludge,

  6. cloning animals or using their products,

  7. excess processing of foods, artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation.


However, what is more important is what organic agriculture does do for the health of the soil, the environment and everyone in it. Organic farmers cultivate their soil's fertility and produce healthy food by:

  1. rotating their crops to balance nutrients in the soil, as well as discourage pests

  2. composting and using "green" manures to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil, keep weeds down and prevent drought and soil erosion.

  3. using beneficial insects or mechanical and manual methods to control pests and weeds



These methods help to promote essential soil micro-biology, wildlife diversity, prevent pest outbreaks, protect soil from erosion, prevent contamination of water, and use far less energy than conventional farming methods.


Organic certification is a rigorous process that requires producers to adhere to a strict set of standards that go above and beyond all the applicable food safety laws. These include:

  1. use of land that has been free of chemicals for at least 3 years,

  2. detailed record keeping and regular audits, which means...

  3. full food traceability — everything that goes into an organic product has to be documented and traceable

  4. routine on-site inspections



Are all of my organic products tested for chemicals?

No, probably not. This is because "organic" is not only about the final product but about how it was grown and made. Sadly, much of our water, air and soil are already contaminated by chemical residues — organic agriculture is a response to this but it doesn't mean organic products will always be 100% residue "free", since nothing can be (at least not until more farmers go organic!). Organic is about more than simply not using chemicals: it's about rotating crops and building soil life for the future, it's about treating animals well and many other things you can't "test" for (which is why we have organic inspectors).