The big change over the last week is that we have been debating applying for organic certification and have been busy talking to other farms, and reading the standards. For those not familiar with ISO and simiilar other "quality" standards the process can feel over whelming and very bureaucratic. For example there is a provincial standard and a federal standard each about 45 pages in length. This is accompanied by a consultant report of 196 pages that spells out the differences. You have to smile at that!
But what we have found is that the understanding of organic farming is widespread and very few understand the certification standard and what it really means. Here is our interpretation before and now. Originally we thought that it was entirely about banned substances, ie pesticides etc. But as we became familiar with the standard we realized it is all encompassing about stewardship of the land, good farming practices and the non-use of banned substances. For example the standard covers issues related to water tables, fertilizers, packaging of final product and many more. Genetically modified seeds are also prohibited by the standard.
It is interesting that many of the chemical fertilizers that we use pollute our water systems. They also create nitrogen oxide which is a greenhouse gas over ten times denser than carbon dioxide or methane, and one of the leading contributors to the greenhouse effect.
In a nutshell we are converts and are applying for organic certification. We feel that we have been largely compliant and that this process should go quite smoothly. We have provided our own definition of "organic farming": "sustainable farming methods that promote bio-diversity, overall stewardship of the farm property and delivery of product to the market that are free of contaminants." If the world moved towards organic farming methods on the whole, we would be making a major step towards reduction of the greenhouse effects as well as a decrease in the costs of health care related to diseases such as cancer which are known to be triggered by many of the banned substances.
We are producing our own page - Organic Farming, which provides and shares the knowledge that we are accumulating so that others can understand the process and contribute to the movement whether in production or support of the farmers who are making the efforts to sustainable farming. Got to go - its mushroom season and we're off to find some tasty chanterelles!