I am sure you are familiar with the USDA Certified Organic seal, the one pictured below to the right. The big and bold white and green logo that is easy to spot in the grocery store, or even on your favorite products and produce. We have toyed with the idea of going through the
lengthy and very expensive process of becoming USDA
Certified Organic. Truth is, our own personal beliefs and morals do not align with the standards that the USDA National Organic Program has set forth.
Our Farm, however, is indeed, “Organic” and has been since we began any type of “farming” or gardening. We believe that our practices go far beyond the scope of the weakening standards that the USDA has.
The USDA standards do not guarantee that any food produced and grown following those standards is dense with nutrition, good for you, nor do they make sure that the farm is environmentally friendly. The USDA makes it easy for big professional farms to become certified organic and those big farms have thus co-opted those standards, and leave the passionate little local farms without any control. Many certified farms are doing more harm than good when it comes to the environment and the animals and humans who consume and use their food. The integrity of the USDA Organic Certification is becoming murky and no longer holds any real value.
We, at Red Barn Acres, believe that our growing and production practices truly reflect how organic farming and growing should be done, and we proudly say that anything grown and produced on our meager 3 acres is “Grown on our Farm Organic” like the seal to the left.
We follow the Honest Old-Time Organic Standards set forth by Eliot Coleman on his farm, Four Seasons Farm in Harborside, Maine.
1. First, for uncompromised nutritional value all crops must be grown in fertile soil attached to the earth and nourished by the natural biological activities of that soil. There are so many aspects of soil processes that we could not replace even if we wanted to, because we are still unaware of how they all work.
2. Second, soil fertility should be maintained principally with farm-derived organic matter and mineral particles from ground rock. Why take the chance of bringing in polluted material from industrial sources when fertility can be created and maintained internally?
3. Third, green manures and cover crops must be included within broadly based crop rotations to enhance biological diversity. The greater the variety of plants and animals on the farm, the more stable the system.
4. Fourth, a “plant positive” rather than a “pest negative” philosophy is vital. The focus must be on correcting the cause of problems by strengthening the plant through optimum growing conditions to prevent pests, rather than merely treating symptoms by trying to kill the pests that prey on weak plants. More and more scientific evidence is available today on the mechanisms by which a biologically active fertile soil creates induced resistance in the crops.
5. Fifth, livestock must be raised outdoors on grass-based pasture systems to the fullest extent possible. Farm animals are an integral factor in the symbiosis of soil fertility on the organic farm.
You can find them here, along with some other very useful information on why the USDA Certification is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
We wholeheartedly believe in PREVENTION over TREATMENT. This means we take whatever precautions we must in order to PREVENT infestation or diseases on our crops, instead of waiting for them to happen and then treating with chemicals. We do not use chemical pesticides or herbicides. We use preventative measures to keep pests out and to keep disease at bay. Of course, we usually end up dealing with some sort of pests, like tomato horn worms that feast on our tomato plants or even the nasty squash beetles that decimated any form of squash crop we had in 2017. When an infestation does happen, we take care of the problem usually by picking all the horn worms off and ultimately they meet their demise, the same goes for the beetles.
As for disease, we take care to either purchase hybrid seeds and plants that are bred to be naturally disease resistant (hybrid is NOT the same as GMO, hybrids are merely crosses between two types of the same plant species), and we practice crop rotation.
In closing, we hope that you can feel confident in knowing that anything that is grown and produced on our farm is done so with the utmost care and respect for the true Organic Farming Practices mentioned above, also known as The Honest Old-Time Organic Standards set forth by Eliot Coleman himself and other organic pioneers.