[NAFEX] Organic vs Standard Spray Programs

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Mon Apr 14 21:24:12 EDT 2008

On Apr 14, 2008, at 5:47 PM, Mark & Helen Angermayer wrote:

>   I think organic fits much better with backyard orchardists, or small
> growers who market their own product.  Small growers, particularly 
> those
> with supplemental off-farm income can afford to experiment and may 
> have less
> pest pressure.  The situation is different for someone trying to make a
> living full-time farming.

I think there's some truth in saying that organic fits better with 
small growers, partly in that some of the techniques may be more labor 
intensive, and partly in that organic works best with diversified 
cropping: growers who have large acreages of only one species have a 
disadvantage both in increased numbers of species-specific pests and in 
difficulty encouraging diverse populations of beneficials. Large 
growers can of course plant a large number of small blocks, 
interspersing different crops, or even mix the crops in one field; but 
this makes it difficult to use large-scale equipment, which of course 
poses a much bigger problem for the large grower than for the small 

However, there are people making a living full-time farming who are 
farming organically. It's not going to work for every operation; but it 
can be done. Many such growers are, indeed, using direct-market 
techniques for at least part of their sales.

There are, of course, some very large "organic" operations selling to 
grocery chains all across the country; Cal-Organic and the like. I 
expect they do meet USDA standards.

>  is the consumer willing to accept a less flavorful
> apple?  Maybe some will, but I suspect most won't.

Considering that the competition in the grocery store is mostly from 
entirely insipid strains of Red and Golden Delicious, and considering 
the flavor or rather lack of it of most fruit in most grocery stores, I 
think "the consumer" is entirely willing to accept tasteless fruit. The 
challenge is in getting most people to find out what good fruit tastes 

I have had some very flavorful organic apples -- I'm sorry, I'm bad at 
names on anything I don't grow myself, and can't recall what they were.
>  in farming one can always find someone doing something different, and 
> claiming it works.  The key is making it work in your climate and 
> circumstances.

That is certainly true.

> Marketing the pigs would be an obstacle in many areas.

If there are any small slaughterhouses in your area that will take one 
or a few animals at a time (there are several around here), your best 
bet would be to sell direct to the consumer. There is certainly a 
market for small-scale raised meats in many parts of the country. 
Legalities of this differ from state to state; in New York what's often 
done is to, technically, sell the live animal to one or more people 
(who will each wind up with a side or a quarter); the farm then does 
the new owners the favor of delivering the animal to the 
slaughterhouse. There are also ways to sell individual cuts legally, 
though I think this is more complicated.

Try to find out in advance whether your customers are likely to want 
fat hogs or lean ones. This is apparently affected strongly by breed 
selection as well as by feed (at any rate judging by what I've been 
told and what I've wound up with in my own freezer; as far as livestock 
goes, I'm on the consumer end).

Finger Lakes NY; zone 5 mostly
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