[Market-farming] sorta OT - update on our organic certification process (long)

charlie taplin vthick43 at gmail.com
Sun May 13 07:50:43 EDT 2012


I have been in the organic business helping others and supplying products
for over 20 yrs. (before it was cool)
I sort of retired from it and leased my wife's families 230 yr. old
family farm and certified it. I had some of your feelings
even knowing what to expect. It was the best thing I have
done. We sell by the veggies at a road stand and some
hay, raise about 300-500 layer pullets a yr. to sell and being
certified brings $16 ea.
It increased our sales 3 fold.

On Sat, May 12, 2012 at 10:51 PM, <KAKerby at aol.com> wrote:

> **
> I'm sitting here feeling a little foolish for sending this email, but I
> have precious few other "audiences" to tell it to, so <lucky you> I'm
> posting it here.
>
> As some of you will recall, we made the decision to go for organic
> certification earlier this year.  That decision put into motion more
> changes here, and at our rental ground, than I could possibly put into a
> single email.  One of the biggies was that we learned our landlord farmer
> has thought about it for years, but figured he had some fatal flaws that
> prevented him from applying to the program.  Turns out they weren't fatal
> flaws at all, but fairly typical of farms that have been managed
> conventionally and are now considering organic certification.  He is
> enthusiastically supporting our application for our rented 14 acres, and
> he'll watch to see how that goes.  But he may end up certifying his entire
> place - 80 acres, if he likes what he sees of this initial effort.  Which
> would put the total certified acres at just about 100, all because we got a
> bee in our bonnet to get certified.
>
> We churned through all the application paperwork over a span of nearly 2
> months.  Ugh.  We're going for all three categories - Crops, Ruminants and
> Non-Ruminants.  Our application packet was 64 pages long, with very little
> redundancy between the three categories (and yours truly didn't even write
> any missives; just clipped answers).  I guess even after we sent the packet
> off, I didn't really consider it "real" because there was always the chance
> that the reviewer would look through it, snort with derision, and send it
> back stamped "No Chance In Heck Of Ever Being Certified".  So I anxiously
> awaited the reviewer's comments, and that letter stating whether our
> paperwork was in order, needed some work, or was flatly denied.
>
> While waiting, I had some changes to our overall plan that I figured the
> reviewer would need to know about. So I emailed the general office
> yesterday and said I wasn't sure who our reviewer was, but please forward
> these updates.  I got back an email only about 30 minutes later, saying
> "hi, I'm your reviewer, I got your updates, and I just finished your formal
> application letter.  Want to go over everything now?"  Gulp.  I emailed
> "sure", and she said she'd forward a PDF of the formal letter to me "for my
> consideration."  She warned me "not to take the questions personally, but
> ours was a fairly complex application and there were bound to be questions
> that came up."  Great.  So I got the PDF, but was afraid to open it for
> awhile.  Finally worked up the nerve (over another cup of my favorite tea),
> and was pleasantly surprised to find that most of the questions or requests
> for clarification were really rather small.  A few items had me a tad
> worried, but most were easy.  I emailed her back with the few issues that I
> was most concerned about, and she responded "give me a call. I can answer
> those in 10 minutes on the phone, while it would take half an hour to write
> it all out."  Dang, now I'm going to talk to her in person.  Worked up the
> nerve to call her, and we had a whiz-bang slam-dunk conversation, knocking
> down one topic or question after another, bang-bang-bang.  Got off the
> phone with a few go-do's, but again nothing major.  And then it hit me.
> We're done with the paperwork portion.  The next stop?  Inspection.  At
> which point I started to think "oh, crap, I've got 14,201 things to do
> before then........"
>
> So I spent most of the rest of yesterday bouncing between Cloud 9 and
> "OMIGOD the inspection is coming up!  Augh!"  While the application didn't
> feel "real" to me at first, now it's real enough.  On the one hand, they
> like what they've seen enough to warrant the inspection.  On the other
> hand, dang now I have to go out and do all those things I said I was going
> to do this year.  And in a way that meets a whole new higher caliber.  So
> I'm still vacillating between Cloud 9 and "OMYGOD", and probably driving my
> husband crazy in the process.  We have already decided that we need to get
> him a Tshirt that says "I'm married to an organic zealot!"  But at this
> point, I'm starting to dare to think that we might be on our way to really
> truly getting that certification, which would pave the way not only for us
> but for the larger farm that we've been teaming up with the last few
> years.  Scary stuff.  Exciting, but scary.
>
> Thanks for listening.  I just really didn't have anyone else to
> tell.........
> Kathryn Kerby
> frogchorusfarm.com
> Snohomish, WA
> Ruminations - essays on the farming life at frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html
>
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-- 
Charlie at Floating Bridge Organics
"without power over our food,
any notion of democracy is empty"
Frances Moore Lappe
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