I get this question a lot and for good reason. Although it is important to have a certificate I feel it is more important to hold yourself to the highest standards. While we are not certified at this moment we are on track if we wanted to become so later in the future.
We use only organic and non-gmo seeds, use only fertilizers that are approved for organic production, and follow the same guidelines but forgo the certification.
Here’s why we choose not to certify.
- It is an added cost to a small scale farm which operates on very thin margins. We would be forced to absorb the cost or to pass it on to our customers.
- I would rather someone know where there food comes from as opposed to buying something just because it is certified. The idea behind connecting with your local farmer is all about building a relationship. Understanding why and how they produce there goods.
- The certificate is not enough in our opinion to make farming what we want to see and that is sustainable which is different than organic. Organic can still mean mono-cropping and large scale agriculture. We want to see our small scale farming system replicated to feed communities and ultimately the world. That means small scale quality production, accountability and sustainability.
Looking back in history it was not all that long ago that every farmer was organic. The history of agriculture is a fascinating one and deserves attention as to how we have arrived at growing food in an industrial model. I recommend a book called “Harvest for Hope” by Jane Goodall and “Guns, Germs and Steel” by Jared Diamond. Goodall’s book highlights the consequences that our diets have on the planet. Diamond’s book explains the impact that guns, germs and steel had in the advancement of certain cultures. Both these books shine light onto the history of agriculture and how it has molded our world.
So…While we are not certified organic by any governmental agency we only use products that are certified for organic production. Here is what we use on our farm:
- Compost: This is incorporated into the top 2″ of our soil yearly to increase organic matter. We utilize spent mushroom compost which was used for growing mushrooms but has been depleted of some of its nutrients.
- Nutri-Rich pellets: A slow release fertilizer that we utilize for most of our crops. It is incorporated at the same time as the compost.
- Amendments based upon our soil analysis: Gypsum, CalPhos and Oystershell. These are typical amendments for the Sierra Nevada foothills.
- Liquid Fish: I will use this as an inital fertilizer when I transplant or fertigate (fertilizing and irrigating at the same time) my heavy feeders like tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers.
- Liquid Kelp: I’ll use liquid kelp in conjusction with the liquid fish for an added boost of microbial activity.
- Compost Tea: I brew my own compost tea made from homemade compost. I’ll spray my fruit trees and most of my long term annual plants like tomatoes along with seedling starts. I don’t use it on short term crops like greens or spray it when a plant has started to set fruit.