Paola Legarre has worked in the organic agriculture for more than 18 years, so for her it was a natural and easy transition for her farm to become certified organic. Her strong beliefs in conserving the environment and maintaining a healthy place for her family and future generations has always been her priority. Her day-to-day decisions on her farm reflect her beliefs.
Apart from just saying we believe in organic farming we take actions by going through the laborious process of being certified organic through the USDA. This entails maintaining mountains of paperwork, annual inspections and dues. The price of being certified organic and following the organic practices proves to be more expensive then conventional farming. The expense of organic farming can sometimes translate to higher prices to the consumer.
The long term view of organic practices is actually less costs to our environment , meaning farms contribute less contaminates in our ground water, our rivers and streams.
- Building healthy soils, the cornerstone of organic farming.
- Examples of what we do on the farm to improve our soil health: No till; implement cover cropping; by intercropping between rows, planting grasses and legumes whenever possible; use of compost; rotating annual crops; use of organic fertilizers which come from plants, animals and mined minerals.
- Controlling Weeds through mechanical and biological methods
- Examples of what we do on the farm to combat weeds: We use natural mulches, we cover crop to out compete weeds, we hand hoe; we use woven weed barriers; we use biodegradable mulches
- Controlling Pests & Disease through using non-synthetic pesticides and the use biological methods
- Examples of what we do on the farm to control pests: Crop rotation; use of pheromone disrupters; natural biological controls; introduce beneficial insects; maintain beneficial insects and pollinators by maintaining plants/barrier plantings that attract them.
What Being “Certified Organic” Means
The term “certified organic” refers to produce grown on farms that have been inspected by an independent, third-party certifier. The certifier ensures that a certified organic farm complies with the strict National Organic Program standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In the most general terms, Organic is a labeling term that indicates that the food or other agricultural product has been produced through approved methods that integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
To earn certification, organic farms must:
- Have long-term soil management plans.
- Establish buffers between their fields and nearby conventional farms.
- Meet specific requirements for labeling and record keeping.
- Use no chemical herbicides, fumigants, or synthetic fertilizers, and no unapproved pesticides on soil or plants.
- Keep detailed records of all the materials and inputs used in their growing operations.
- Be deposed at any moment for plant tissue and residue testing.
- Observe a 3-year transition period for fields that have been farmed conventionally
Annual certification inspections enforce the USDA’s strict guidelines, so consumers have the security of knowing exactly what goes into their certified organic food.