Becoming a certified organic farm was an important choice for us, we have always felt that it was a responsible choice. When it comes to your food, certified organic can also be an important choice for you, which is why we wanted to bring some clarity to what an organic certification is.
Farms that are certified organic are focused on the well-being of current and future generations, as well as the environment. In Canada currently, there are rules called the Canadian Organic Standards (COS) that summarize the elements of organic farming. The list can be cumbersome to read through, but these standards are in place to work toward the goal of organic farming with the central idea of giving back more than you take. The Canadian Organic Standards are about feeding and nurturing the soil and everything living on it.
There are a few steps to take if you want to become a certified organic farm. In our experience, we had a farm meeting and upon finding that we often exceeded the regulations of the COS, we registered with an accredited organic agency who, on a yearly basis, hires an independent auditing inspector trained specifically in organic certification.
In addition to this initial step are the annual practices to maintain your certification. This includes a lengthy application that is to be filled out every year, a yearly on-farm inspection, and an audit. It can be a lot of work, but it is entirely worth it!
The inspectors are incredibly perceptive and can recognize any variance from the COS in your paperwork or out in your fields. An organic inspection is often more detailed than a tax audit. Our organic inspections and audits usually take most of the day, from about 9 in the morning until about 4 in the afternoon, plus a few additional hours of follow up phone calls or emails. The outdoor inspection looks at all the growing areas and animals, then a detailed review of all records. In some cases they can also ask for soil, plant, or food samples for testing. The current organic certification is one of the best tools you have as a customer to learn more about a farm you can’t personally travel to.
Despite the work to get certified, there are plenty of benefits to organic foods and farming. By using organic methods of tending to the earth and animals both farmers and customers alike reduce their intake of pesticides, health harming chemicals, synthetic growth hormones, GMO’s, and irradiation. While that’s certainly a great reason to choose organic, you can also know that each time you purchase from a certified organic farm you reduce harm to the planet by reducing the toxins that get into our groundwater, soil, and air. This also encourages other farmers to follow suit and convert to organic production. You can buy your groceries knowing the integrity of your food source without knowing the farmer, that said, it’s always a good idea to get to know your farmers whenever you can, we’d love to meet you!
Organic farming also promotes the biodiversity of plants and animals, which helps things to grow. Plus, the methods in place at organic certified farms reduce the amount of energy required to produce food! Shopping at a local certified organic farm is a wonderful way to take responsibility for the real cost of food. Good food does good things for your health and the environment too!
Here is the current certification for our farm: