About Organic Farming
Are you looking for a reliable source of food raised or grown without the use of persistent pesticides? Are you concerned about the effects of pesticides and fertilizers on our soil and waterways? Do you agree that local, sustainably grown food can actually strengthen our communities? Then take a look at organic farming – a method of agriculture that pays proper respect to our health, the environment and the important role of food within society.
Organic farming is synonymous with "clean" food – fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat produced without conventional toxic chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers.
So many people are devoted to organic farming because it does more than just provide delicious stuff to eat. It’s also eco-friendly — or, as we like to say, it’s a responsible form of agriculture that seeks to preserve the health of farmland.
Farming organically is a way to grow our bodies’ fuel while respecting soil, water, plants and animals. As mandated by the USDA National Organic Standards, on an organic farm…
- Soil and plants cannot be treated with chemicals or persistent pesticides or herbicides.
- No synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge can be used to promote growth.
- GMOs are not allowed.
- Animals are fed organic feeds, given access to the outdoors, and allowed to fulfill their natural behaviors.
- Synthetic growth hormones and antibiotics are forbidden.
What Makes It "Organic Farming"?
There are strict guidelines around what farming practices earn the "organic" label.
What may be used on a conventional farm:
- An assortment of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and growth enhancers can be used to stimulate soil and crops. When the soil is found lacking in various nutrients, they might be added through the use of synthetic fertilizers.
- The focus is often on short-term yield increases rather than long-term soil health.
- Crops may be grown from genetically modified seeds.
- Pesticides or fungicides may be used to control insects in crop storage and transportation.
- Conventional farmers are not generally required to keep records of their production practices or agree to third-party inspections. In contrast, organic farming focuses on proactive practices that prevent soil depletion, water pollution, infested crops, and sick animals.
In contrast, organic farming focuses on proactive practices that prevent soil depletion, water pollution, infested crops, and sick animals.
Organic farmers must:
- Replenish and maintain soil fertility.
- Eliminate the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers.
- Restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony.
- Build and support biologically diverse agriculture.
- Keep records verifying their practices and products.
Organic Farmers Bring Communities Together
Growing food in concert with nature provides deep meaning and fulfillment for the farmer – and the buyer. "Farmer Al" Courchesne raises organic peaches, nectarines, pears, apricots, and cherries on Frog Hollow Farm in Brentwood, California. He points out that farming organically seems to represent a step back from our technologically advanced society, a move that appeals to many of us.
According to Farmer Al, "Food is part of the foundation of culture and community — we need to pay more attention to it — and organic farming can take a strong leadership role in the restoration of life's value and meaning. Not just in the health of our children and families but in terms of meaningful membership and participation in the local community."
Organic Farming Has an Eye Toward The Future
Anthony Owens, owner of Windy Ridge Organic Farm in Hendersonville, NC, is the only organic apple grower on the East Coast. Knowing his customers are eating the best produce available gives him tremendous satisfaction. But keeping the land healthy so that future generations can enjoy the same kind of quality is even better.