Seeds and Organic Certification

Wiediger, Alison awiediger at HART.k12.ky.us
Wed Dec 12 09:02:51 EST 2001


As with most of you, Paul and I are putting together our seed order for
2002.  Actually, we do this several times a year because we grow all year,
but this is our BIG order.  Selecting varieties and seedsman has brought up
another topic of conversation that I think is relevant to a lot of us on
this listserv - do we certify organic or do we not ?  We are hoping that
others are mulling this over and we can get some good discussion, but if
this becomes too 'off topic', we'll take it private and just include those
interested.

We have always been certified organic - well, since Kentucky started a
program in 1991, and have always grown organically (over 25 years), but it
is now a major topic of discussion whether we continue (certifying, we'll
always grow that way).  Seeds are a large issue.  If certified organic seeds
are 'commercially available' , we must buy them to be certified ourselves.
We see both sides of this issue: if there is to be a supply of organic seed,
the growers must be willing to buy it, but our side is the one that matters
most to us : what does commercially available mean?  To us, it means
commercial varieties, in commercial quantities, at a competitive price
(doesn't have to be cheap, just not prohibitive to profit). But what if to
our certifier, it means open pollinated varieties, 20 seed packets at a
retail price of $2.95?  How long will it be(if ever) before the commercial
varieties we use are available as organic seed? What happens until then? We
can do some seed saving, but many really good commercial varieties are
hybrids, and most seeds have isolation requirements difficult to achieve
when growing a variety of produce for market on a small acreage.

So, where does it leave us ?  We like being able to say our produce is
organic.  It has immediate recognition value with the consumer.  Anything
else would have to be explained - and most customers 'zone out' pretty
quickly. But, the federal requirements will make our already hectic lives
even more difficult.  We're in a quandary.  How about the rest of you?  What
do you plan ?

Alison and Paul Wiediger
Au Naturel Farm
http://aunaturelfarm.homestead.com

Alison Wiediger, Technician
Hart County Schools
awiediger at hart.k12.ky.us




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