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

Etienne Goyer etienne at lejardinduvillage.ca
Sun May 13 08:09:21 EDT 2012

The market perspective is interesting.  I am not yet certified; looking
forward to that in 2013.  This spring, I have a quackgrass infestation
to deal with (improper soil prep last year - not gonna do that mistake
twice!).  My brother think I am silly for not spraying RoundUp.  I agree
that of all the herbicide, glyphosate is probably the lesser evil,
that's not the problem.  But he just does not get it: what sells my
veggies, and allows me to get a good price, is that they are grown
organically.  At the market, I think it must be, like, one customer out
of two who casually ask "are you organic?"  Right now, I say "I am not
certified organic, but I grow without chemical fertilizer and synthetic
pesticide", which so far has satisfied everyone.  If I spray RoundUp
this spring, I cannot honestly say that anymore.

Nothing is perfect.  I would rather deal with a quackgrass infestation
organically than having to explain why I am
organic-but-not-quite-because-I-sprayed-once-this-spring a dozen time at
every market.  Plus, for good or bad, I am a principled person: spraying
would be a personal failure of holding up to my values.

Kathryn, nice write-up you have there.  You should post it to your blog!  :)

On 12-05-13 07:50 AM, charlie taplin wrote:
> 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
> <mailto: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 <http://frogchorusfarm.com>
>     Snohomish, WA
>     Ruminations - essays on the farming life at
>     frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html <http://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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Etienne Goyer  -  Le Jardin du Village

"Changer le monde, une betterave à la fois"

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