Our Farming Practices
Organic farming is a whole system (or holistic) way of producing food. This means that organic farmers think about the effects of their farming practices on the soil, the quality of the food they produce, the local community and the wider environment.
The word 'organic' is a legal term. In the US, all organic farmers, growers and processors must register with one of the organic certification bodies which certifies that they have met the strict requirements. Our farm is certified organic by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC, a third party certifying agency.
Key Principles of Organic Farming on our farm include:
Organic farmers build healthy soils by nourishing the living component of the soil, the microbial inhabitants that release, transform, and transfer nutrients. Soil organic matter contributes to good soil structure and water-holding capacity. We feed soil biota and build soil organic matter with cover crops, compost, and biologically based soil amendments. These produce healthy plants that are better able to resist disease and insect predation.
Organic farmers' primary strategy in controlling pests and diseases is prevention through good plant nutrition and management. We use cover crops and sophisticated crop rotations to change the field ecology, effectively disrupting habitat for weeds, insects, and disease organisms. Weeds are controlled through crop rotation, mechanical tillage, and hand-weeding, as well as through cover crops, mulches, flame weeding, and other management methods. Organic farmers rely on a diverse population of soil organisms, beneficial insects, and birds to keep pests in check. When pest populations get out of balance, growers implement a variety of strategies such as the use of insect predators, mating disruption, traps and barriers. Under the National Organic Certification Guidelines, growers are required to use sanitation and cultural practices first before they can resort to applying a material to control a weed, pest or disease problem. Use of these materials in organic production is regulated, strictly monitored, and documented. As a last resort, certain botanical or other non-synthetic pesticides may be applied.
Source: The Organic Farming Research Foundation. www.ofrf.org
Why is Organic so important?
"A growing body of research shows that pesticides and other contaminants are more prevalent in the foods we eat, in our bodies, and in the environment than we thought. And studies show that by eating organic foods, you can reduce your exposure to the potential health risks associated with those chemicals." Consumer Reports (Feb. 2006)
What does it mean to farm organically? Organic agriculture is an approach to farming that seeks to maintain and improve the productivity of the land by encouraging and enhancing natural biological processes.
The foundation for healthy plants and animals is healthy soil. At The Golden Earthworm Organic Farm we strive to grow strong, healthy crops by stimulating soil biology, growing cover crops to build soil structure, using innovative methods of pest control, and participating in organic research projects.
The use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides is prohibited in Certified Organic Production. The Golden Earthworm Farm is certified by NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC.
Why does organic sometimes cost more?
The cost of organic food is sometimes higher than that of conventional food because the organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food: substituting labor and intensive management for chemicals, the health and environmental costs of which are borne by society. These costs include cleanup of polluted water and remediation of pesticide contamination. Prices for organic foods include costs of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. In the case of processed foods, processing and packaging costs are also included. Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all these steps than conventional foods. The intensive management and labor used in organic production are frequently (though not always) more expensive than the chemicals routinely used on conventional farms. There is mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food production were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same, or, more likely, be cheaper than conventional food. Source: The Organic Farming Research Foundation.