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

Beth Spaugh lists at rhomestead.com
Sun May 13 13:12:07 EDT 2012

It depends on each farm, the agency, and the inspector, but I felt the
physical farm inspections were a breeze.  My problem is they want everything
documented - when, what, how much, including yields, and I just couldn't do
that.  I am starting to use a smartphone this year, making notes as I go,
and think it might be doable again, and am aiming to recertifiy next year.
I haven't done anything differently production-wise.


Beth Spaugh

Rehoboth Homestead, Peru NY

http://rhomestead.com      http://www.facebook.com/rhomestead


"How we eat determines, to a considerable extent, how the world is used." -
Wendell Berry

"Without power over our food, any notion of democracy is empty." - Frances
Moore Lappe




From: market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org
[mailto:market-farming-bounces at lists.ibiblio.org] On Behalf Of
KAKerby at aol.com
Sent: Saturday, May 12, 2012 10:52 PM
To: market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org
Subject: [Market-farming] sorta OT - update on our organic
certificationprocess (long)


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


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


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

Kathryn Kerby


Snohomish, WA

Ruminations - essays on the farming life at frogchorusfarm.com/weblog.html

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