Transitioning to Organic

By   June 29, 2015

organic-foodFarmers Markets abound during the warmer weather months of the year.  Most of us want to make a move to support our local farmers and buy their produce, but are they selling organic?  This is what has stopped me from loading up every Tuesday like moving service kitchener when visiting the Farmers’ Market in my area.  I’m sure the foods are wholesome and delicious, but are they grown from seeds that are gmo? Is the smaller local guy still catering to Big Ag?  Are they spraying with unhealthy pesticides?  I have to ask.

Growing organic is a process that takes a commitment.  Switching from being a conventional chemically grown food producing farmer to a certified organic grower takes education, time and money. The good news is, it’s all paying off.

There is a growing demand in the US for organics and now there are financial incentives driven by the market for more healthy food production nationwide.  So how do we support the local guy during their metamorphosis?  Simply buy the crops that they presently offer which are organic.  It assists them and continues to send messages incentivising them to expand their organic yields for next year.

Transitioning to Organic

More farmers are making the necessary changes to cater to the consumers’ need, but they need the training to get all the way to certification.  Learning the growing and harvesting techniques along with having agronomic resources available to be certain of producing the highest quality organic crops is their starting point.  It’s recommended that transitioning be a gradual process so the farm can sustain while the change takes place.  The conventional farmer needs a transition plan in place.  With a solid plan, they can identify aspects that must change and how those conversions will affect their existing farm management as they are implemented.

There are hundreds of ways to grow organically.  Instead of being dependent on the fertilizer or pesticide salesman telling them which chemical to spray for which crop or pest, the less conventional farmer needs to learn which natural pest deterrent suites his style and becomes his preference. Organizations such as CASFS, The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems and even the local University’s department of agriculture will give farmers guidelines and later assist them in getting certified as organic growers.

Time

The land takes time to recover from all the years of pesticides and chemically based fertilizers that have been driven into the soil.  Approximately two years of bringing the life back into the soil is required for most crops to thrive.   As a consumer you might have noticed that the organic produce you purchased even just a couple of years ago looked and tasted vastly different from the organic produce you can buy today.  We noticed this years’ summer peaches, for example, are heads above the ones we ate last summer.  The soil is recovering and producing naturally lovely fruits and vegetables, but it takes time.

Money

When the organic trend started the farmer switched to a healthier grow driven by environmental and health concerns.  Wanting to align with natural growing techniques and tired of being exposed to harsh chemicals they entered the process with a definite mindset.  This mindset is embedded in the way a farmer chooses to run his business.  Now there are financial incentives in place that assist the organic farmer.

As one example, The Farm Bill has aligned with agencies like EQIP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to provide financial aid payments to eligible producers.  The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, WHIP also working through the Farm Bill, supports efforts in farming that protects projects related to natural wildlife, like honey bee and honey sustainability.  The US Department of Agriculture is presently focusing on aid to organic farms.  Financial grants for conventional farmers who want to transition over to organic as well as newly inspired first generation farmers, are more available than ever before.

No one says it’s easy to go organic for the farmer, but the long term investment is proving to be worth the efforts of those who do.  With more and more people becoming aware of personal well-being and wanting to have healthier choices in their food consumption the trend toward organically grown food is here to stay.

Leave a comment and tell us what you think of organic foods becoming the norm.