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Transitioning to organic 21310

Transitioning to organic 21310



Provides reasons to transition to organic and steps to take to transiton farm

Provides reasons to transition to organic and steps to take to transiton farm



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    Transitioning to organic 21310 Transitioning to organic 21310 Presentation Transcript

    • Transitioning to organic The whys and hows… Vicki Morrone (sorrone@msu.edu) Organic Vegetable and Field Crop Educator Mott Sustainable Food Systems Michigan State University
    • Just what is organic??
      • Two general things one can say about organically produced food:
      • It needs to be grown using a mixture of approaches so it’s less dependent on pesticides (like good IPM)
      • The pesticides and/or soil amendments used need to be from a natural source, not bio engineered or synthetic. Look for the OMRI seal and check with your certifier if unsure.
    • Organic is a way to produce food that involves the whole system
      • Build the soil so it grows strong plants
      • Select hardy crops/varieties that are resistant to pests
      • Grow cover crops or ground cover that feeds the soil (such as clovers)
      • Grow plants with flowers to provide nectar and a place to hang out when its hot for beneficial insects.
      • When scouting, if a pesticide is needed it is used in conjunction with other practices.
    • Considerations?
      • Your priorities
      • Your markets
      • Potential losses
      • Potential gains
      • Your drive to change your production method
    • Priorities?
      • Environment
      • Family
      • Labor
      • Equipment/ infrastructure
      • Farm situation
    • What gains?
      • New market opportunities
      • Whole Foods, Plum Markets, Sysco (GR), Farmers Markets, CSAs
      • Chance to build your soil and see payback
      • Gain tilth 2 yrs Increase organic matter 5 yrs
      • New social and work network
      • Organic farmers and community members promoters, MOFFA, MIFFS, environmentalists, schools
      • Increase in price received for produce (20-60%)
      • Amount depends on markets; lower margin at most Farmers markets and higher at all organic wholesalers
      • A system to help you keep track
      • Farm Plan, traceability records, receipts, labels, input sources
    • What changes?
      • Transition time
      • Reduction in yield in initial years
      • Existing markets not willing
      • Chemical fixes for weeds and plant nutrients
      • Comfort zone of knowledge of farming
    • Initially…
      • Especially in first 2-5 years
      • Reduced harvest yield
      • Less secure markets
      • Inadequate labor force
      • Reduced available time due to learning curve
    • Wanna know more??
      • Consider what you know already
        • Different situations at your farm
        • Compare one field to the next
        • How different types/sizes of markets operate
      • Consider how organic production works
        • All crops have the same biology
        • Think of it as assisting mother nature’s talents and gifts
    • Getting O-Smarter
      • Visit organic farms
      • Attend field days and talk to the farmers there
      • Talk with organic farmers at markets
      • Go to organic conferences and workshops (MOFFA, MOSES)
      • Partner with an organic farmer for a market
      • Speak to a certifying agency
      • Visit web sites offering info ( www.michiganorganic.msu.edu ; ATTRA.org)
    • Opportunities to Consider
      • Extended season production using hoop houses.
      • Community supported agriculture (CSA).
      • Growing food for schools and institutions
      • Selling at local farmers markets
    • A Market Assessment
      • Existing markets’ interest in organic
      • Potential markets within your area
      • Ability for you to meet those markets demands
        • Packaging
        • Labeling
        • Delivery
        • Billing
    • Steps to Become Certified
      • Prepare
        • Identify sources of inputs and markets
        • Get your paperwork in order including farm plan
        • Share your plan with organic farmers
        • Call a certifying agency-ask them questions
      • Initiate
        • Arrange for an inspection after 3 yrs transition
        • Pay fee and take advantage of cost-shares
        • Register with state of Mi as an organic farmer
      • Maintain
        • Records
        • Farm plan
        • Soil quality
    • Using Organic Inputs
      • Select reliable products
        • Compost with process notes
        • Certified seed potatoes
        • Organic seed whenever possible
        • Transplants from local reliable greenhouse
      • Choose organically allowed products
        • OMRI approved or
        • Approved by certifier
    • Keeping Records
      • Source where purchased
      • Label with ingredients
      • Receipts of payment
    • Who Certifies?
        • Each agency must be registered by the USDA.
        • Each agency follows the NOP guidelines but has their own protocol and application process.
        • Farmer can choose any certifier as long as they are registered with USDA
    • Is certification always necessary?
      • Does certification enhance market opportunities/price?
      • Is organic produce what the market is demanding?
      • Will you sell more than $5000 worth/year?
    • Resources to get there…
      • Find out what are the current NOP rules
        • National Organic Program guidelines
          • http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards.html and click on electronic code of federal regulations
      • Michigan Organic Ag Survey, Bingen and Reardon
      • http://www.moffa.org/f/MI_Organic_Agriculture_Report_March_2007.pdf
      • Find out which products are allowed by NOP
        • OMRI: www.omri.org for what products are allowed by NOP
        • Web page of production resources:
        • www.MichiganOrganic.msu.edu
    • So many decisions…
      • Now for the questions????