Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Going Organic?

Recently, we've been thinking about whether or not we should be working toward organic certification for our farm. It has been one of the really tough decisions we've faced.

When we first decided to start farming, we weren't going to bother with organic certification even though we were going to grow organically. We figured that it was far too much work and expense to certify our small farming operation. We're also somewhat jaded about the whole issue of organic food. Canada has only had the new national standard for organic agriculture for about a year, and even now there are still so many different certifying bodies that each have different standards that you have to adhere to. We can still try to be better than the certifier requires of us, but would we be comfortable throwing in with a certifier that we aren't entirely happy with? Also, especially with the organic animals, there are other standards like Animal Welfare Approved that are almost completely in line with what we want to do, yet doesn't require farms to be organic.

The most important thing for us is taht we're growing our crops and raising our animals ethically. To that end, we are always going to grow in the spirit of organic agriculture, and maybe one day we will certiy as well. Being certified organic would allow us to give our customers a guarantee right from the get go, allowing us to provide the guarantee that there are no chemicals or altered genetics in our food. Then it wouldn't just be our word, but it would be backed up by a third party as well.

The organic standards aren't perfect, but they are a start. Certifying would also be beneficial for any seed that we end up selling, as one of the most difficult aspects of growing organic food is finding untreated, organic seed sources. In fact, it can be very difficult to find almost anything organic for a producer here in Alberta.

Unfortunately, as long as we're still renting land it isn't feasible for us to certify anyway. We would have to spend three years transitioning the land and working with John to make it work, only to have to do the whole process over again when we moved to our own land. So for now, we will continue trying to grow naturally and responsibly, and in a few years when we have our own farm, we'll think about certifying organic then.

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