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Transitioning to organic 21310
 

Transitioning to organic 21310

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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????