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What is Organic Farming?

“Organic Food” is not the same as “Organic Farming”

Organic Farms vs Conventional AgricultureWe previously wrote in detail on “What is Organic Fruit” and explained that as far as regulatory bodies are concerned “organic” means that a food was grown without prohibited chemicals. 

It is important to emphasize that organic designation ONLY refers to chemicals or materials which are permitted or prohibited.

The governing body provides NO guidance on the nature of agricultural processes that are used to produce the crop and their impact on the environment.

Regulatory agencies don’t expect growers do anything positive to regenerate the ecosystem where they are farming. The only requirement is that specific chemicals are not used.

Large industrial agribusinesses that want to take advantage of the “Certified Organic” designation use only permitted chemicals. However, their farming practices cannot really be considered organic.

What is Organic Farming?

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) states:

“Organic production is not simply the avoidance of conventional chemical inputs, nor is it the substitution of natural inputs for synthetic ones.

Organic farmers apply techniques first used thousands of years ago, such as crop rotations and the use of composted animal manures and green manure crops, in ways that are economically sustainable in today’s world.

In organic production, overall system health is emphasized, and the interaction of management practices is the primary concern. Organic producers implement a wide range of strategies to develop and maintain biological diversity and replenish soil fertility.”

Instead of relying on chemicals, Organic farming relies on natural principles like biodiversity and composting instead to produce healthy, abundant food.

Harlequin’s Gardens is a family nursery and garden center in Boulder, Colorado, specializing in organic methods of gardening.

What are Organic Methods?

They explain:

“…to have a healthy soil life is to follow Nature’s example of returning organic matter to the soil every year, by mulching and adding composts and organic fertilizers.

[Organic farming] may take more time and care, like preparing a home-cooked meal from scratch, whereas using chemical fertilizers is like dining at the 7-11 on high fructose corn syrup, processed food and other imitation food stuffs.”

Just like making a home cooked meal from scratch, Organic Farming by small farms is almost “artisanal,” with farmers following their hearts and relying on familiarity with the land and age-old farm technologies that lost favor when commercial pesticides and fertilizers became widely available. It is a labor of love, making a profit is secondary.

Artisanal organic farming, “true” farming, might involve hand-pruning the branches, clearing weeds and mosses by hand, walking the land and checking for any signs of disease, hand-harvesting in the field.

As opposed to relying on chemicals, true Organic farming relies on natural principles like biodiversity and composting to produce healthy, abundant food.

Join the Conversation:

What are your thoughts, experiences, and challenges with organic farming?

We would love to hear from you.