Next year the North Richmond Farm will be taking an important step forward, we will be applying for Organic Certification.
Since the very first seed was planted at NRF, we have been operating following sustainable practices, we have worked on building healthy soil to sustain strong, nutritious plants, and we have stayed away from chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These are some of many practices we have adopted and are also required by organic certifiers, but now we are finally going to be able to apply to have a certification.
Organic agricultural practices are focused on building soil organic matter and fertility.
Synthetic fertilizers are prohibited, because these feed the plant but do not improve the soil, creating an unsustainable dependency of crops on unhealthy and expensive fertilizers. Some organic fertilizers we use are: compost, blood meal, bone meal, green manure.
Another very important practice we follow is the limitation on the use of pesticides. Organic growers are only allowed to use pesticides that have low impact on the environment and no impact on consumers and workers health. Organic growers are also required to practice integrated pest management, which means that instead of applying pesticides every time they see a bug, they always look first for better alternatives, and only apply it as a last resort to treat large pest infestations.
Becoming organic certified also means we will only be allowed to use organic seeds and organic inputs, and that we will follow strict food safety regulations. We will also be required to keep a record track of everything we do, from where we buy our seeds to when and where we use fertilizers and other soil amendments.
Luckly, we have already been complying with most if not all of these requirements and just this year we created and implemented a Food Safety Program. We were very busy this year writing up Standard Operational Procedures and gathering paperwork, we have trained all farm workers on proper food handling, and have started to maintain logs and records of everything we do to keep the produce that we grow clean and healthy. We are now proudly able to say we are in compliance with Federal Food Safety Laws.
What will Organic Certification mean for us at the farm and for the community that receives our produce? Our community will benefit from knowing that we are in full compliance with organic requirements, and will be able to rest assured that the produce we grow and distribute is nutritious and healthy, free of chemicals and pesticides.
Having an organic certification will also help us to be eligible for government grants that require organic certification.