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Organic Agriculture 101What is Organic?Growing food organically is the oldest method ofagriculture known. Before synthetic chemicals, geneticengineering, and thousand-acre farms came to be thepopular way to produce food, people produced whatthey needed using nature-led processes. Organicfarming today brings us back to those traditions, butallows us to take advantage of modern society. Thebasic characteristics of organic farming are:• No synthetic chemicals. At no point in the production, processing or storage of organic food are synthetic chemicals used. This includes pesticides, fertilizers, hormones and antibiotics in livestock, and chemical cleaning agents for tools and equipment.• No genetically engineered organisms (GMO). Genetic engineering is a system of plant and animal breeding that transfers genes from different species (eg. fish genes to a tomato). In nature, genes from different species cannot cross, and this technology has not been adequately tested for long-term implications to human or environmental health. It has been shown to decrease genetic diversity – nature’s resilience to disease, pests, and environmental stress (eg. drought). Organics use only traditionally bred organisms (open-pollinated and hybrids).• Soil building techniques. Organic farming recognizes that the hardest garden workhorses are the bugs in the soil. By “feeding” the worms, centipedes, and microscopic bacteria, they in turn help feed plants in our gardens and keep unwanted bugs (pests) away. Using techniques such as crop rotation, green manures (plow down crops), and adding compost or manure to gardens encourages the soil biota to flourish. • Pest and disease control. Techniques such as hand weeding, companion planting, beneficial insect habitat, trap crops, mulching, and physical barriers are used to control pest problems for which conventional agriculture uses chemicals. Combined with soil building techniques, pest problems are kept at minimum. • Genetic diversity. Planting one type of potato can mean entire crop failure if it happens to be the one the blight attacks. This is exactly what happened in Ireland during the famous Potato Famine that cost the lives of millions. By planting a diverse range of crops and varieties organic farming is more resilient to pest attacks and disease.What is Organic Certification?The stamp on certified organic products guarantees that they have been grown andprocessed in adherence to specified standards that the certifying body uses. Thereare many different certifying bodies – some regionally based, some national, some
international. Each has different standards, butgenerally agree on the basics of organic farminglisted in What is Organic?. FBC is certified by theOrganic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) –an internationally recognized certifyingbody. Their standards require that we:• Maintain accurate field records describing the day-to-day activities in the gardens, the sources of our off-farm inputs (manure, seeds, planting stock), and the sale of our products.• Go through annual application for certification which includes an on-site evaluation by a third party inspector.• Adhere to their regulations for restricted and prohibited inputs by referring to their standards book and consulting with OCIA regarding alternative techniques for pest control and crop management.FBC has hosted two organic inspector training courses (2000 and 2005), deliveredby the Independent Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA). These courses are anintensive 4-day classroom and field site training for individuals who want to learnmore about the inspection and organic certification process, and those who want tobe inspectors themselves. Most certification bodies hire independent inspectors,and recognize the IOIA training as an integral component to skill-building andpreparedness.There are a few different certifying bodies used in the Atlantic region – look fortheir labels:Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) – New Brunswick/PEI/Newfoundland/Nova Scotia chaptersChapter Administrator: Susan Tyler2002 Cedar Camp Rd.South Branch, NB E4E 5E7Tel: 506-433-3935Fax: 506-432-9435E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgMaritime Certified Organic Growers (MCOG)President: Ted Wiggans149 Frog Lake RoadHarvey, NB E6K 2E1Tel: (506) 366-3410Fax: (506) 784-6822 c/o Louise WiggansE-Mail: email@example.comOCCP/Pro-Cert Canada Inc. - Eastern OfficeContact: Larry LendhartOperations Centre2311 Elm Tree RoadP.O. Box 74, Cambray, ONK0M 1E0Tel: 877-867-4264E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Quality Assurance InternationalQAI (Quality Assurance International) is a leading USDA-accredited organic product certifying agency.Email: email@example.comCanada Organic Trade Organization (COTO)The Canadian Organic Trade organization promotes and protectsthe growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers,the public and the economy.Tel: 613-482-1717Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgThe ‘Canada Organic ’ label — is an assurance that theproduct bearing it has met the Canadian governments regulatoryrequirements for organic products.Finding Organics in Your CommunityWe often get inquiries from people in New Brunswick look for sources of organicfood or farms in their areas. There are a few on-line directories that are a goodplace to start, listed below. Remember, even if there isnt a farm market close by, oran independent grocery down the street, you can take action by making yoursearch public! Try putting an ad in the local want ads, or posters at the farmmarket. Also, the certifying bodies listed above or your closest agriculture station/centre may help you find a supplier from their contacts.ACORN Organic Food DatabaseACORNs (Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network) Organic Resource Directorylists producers, processors, certifying bodies, retailers, suppliers, distributors,government and NGO’s, food services, consultants, and media involved withorganics in all of the Atlantic provinces. The directory is set up to search bykeyword, narrowing the selection criteria by province, type, etc.COG Directory of Organics in CanadaThe Canadian Organic Growers (COG) has issued a resource directory, similar toACORN’s but extended to cover all of Canada. Contact info is organized by provinceand category.NB Farmers MarketsTourism New Brunswick has listed the many farm markets located across theprovince.Canadian Organic Growers of New Brunswick (COG-NB)Provide a network for the organic sector in New Brunswick to promote productionand consumption of local, organic products.Tel: (506) 367-2781E-mail: email@example.com