Fresh Facts: What’s involved and does it matter? — A conversation about organic farming

By August 30, 2015Fresh Facts, Newsletter

There is so much confusion and misinformation about organic farming out there—even amongst well educated organic consumers—that I think spending a bit of time on this subject would be valuable for all of us.

I mean, you’re taking hard earned income to purchase organically produced food here. We are working a lot harder to produce and handle it organically and the kitchen…people just have no idea what it takes to bake a certified organic peach cobbler.

So why do it, what’s involved and does it matter to our family’s well being?

I must say, that most writing on this from the organic side typically goes negative really fast. Google most any organic web-site and that’s what you’ll see, hear and read. And since I guess there’s some political stuff going on in the country, it’s easy to observe right now how negativity is easier than substance. If I can make my opponent out to be evil, I no longer have to engage their ideas.

And before I leave this, here’s how you can often be Solomon in determining who’s right and who’s wrong. If I say I’m right and you’re wrong about anything; that very well could be the case. But if I say I’m right, you’re wrong and you have to be quiet and if you aren’t quiet, I’ll make you be quiet; everyone should easily see that it’s me who’s wrong; truth doesn’t fear a discussion.

Back on the organic track,

we here at AHO have always worked really hard to keep it positive. We want to take the time to show why organic is a positive choice worth the investment.

That’s what’s behind the farm tours and it’s what’s behind all the farmer bios and writing. You guys are way too intelligent for any other approach, so here goes.

Organic starts with the soil. If a farmer wants to become a certified organic farmer (and it’s a federal offence to use the word ‘organic’ apart from certification) his first hurdle is to start using only organically approved inputs for 36 months and 1 day.

What we observed on our farm over this 3 year period was the return of native plants—weeds—to the non-cultivated areas. Over years of herbicide use, we had eliminated the native grasses and all that was left were these herbicide resistant super weeds no one had ever heard of like Flax-leaf Fleabane. In the same way the native grasses couldn’t compete in an herbicide environment, Flax-leaf Fleabane can’t compete with the native grasses in a biological setting. 3 years was oddly the correct period of time to accomplish their return. Where these native grasses came back from I have no idea because we had been very thorough in their elimination from our farm.

So that’s an important surface observation; let’s move underground now to the basis of all organic, the soil. Conventional vs. organic could really better be phrased chemical vs. biological (Europe actually calls organic ‘bio’) and the proof of this is microbial activity; both the quantity and the quality of microbial activity in the soil.

To me, this is really exciting stuff. There are more microbes in a good double hand-full of organic soil than there are people on earth. There’s this whole symbiotic relationship going on in the soil of my farm between microbes and roots and worms and manure that transfers to the high nutrition you’re enjoying; more soon.

Author Uncle Vern

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