Why Organic Farming and Products?
It takes more time and energy to farm organically than “conventionally” as well as extra effort and cost to source certified organic feed and supplements for our goats and birds. But, consistent with our desire for nourishing our land and our community, here are the reasons behind our continued commitment to organic farming practices and products.
Nourishing the soil to improve nutrition and the environment
Organic practices start with nourishing the soil that feeds our food. Research shows that organically produced foods, grown in healthy soil, are higher in antioxidants and other nutrients than those produced conventionally. By building the soil biology in which our food is grown, nutrients are transferred to the plants in forms that they can utilize. Healthy soils derived through organic and agro-ecological practices are also highly effective at capturing and storing carbon as discussed in this excellent article.
Avoiding the damaging effects of synthetic fertilizers
Synthetic fertilizers require large quantities of fossil fuels to produce and contribute to soil degradation, nitrous oxide emissions and aquatic dead zones. Instead, environmentally responsible and sustainable healthy soil is built through green manuring and composting.
The production of conventional vegetable seeds (non-organic) requires the application of significantly more pesticides and fertilizer than organic seed crops. We save our own where we can and willingly pay extra for any certified organic cover crop and vegetable seed that we need.
Avoiding the damage of persistent pesticides and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
We agree with the recent report from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council that “today’s dominant agricultural model is highly problematic, not only because of damage inflicted by pesticides, but also their effects on climate change, loss of biodiversity and inability to ensure food sovereignty”. They recommend instead, to “encourage farmers to adopt agroecological practices to enhance biodiversity and naturally suppress pests, and to adopt measures such as crop rotation, soil fertility management and crop selection appropriate for local conditions”.
Related to the dramatic rise in global pesticide application, genetically modified crops (GMOs) are a recent technology introduced without complete safety testing. In practice, the combination of GMOs with their associated biocides (especially the billions of kilograms of Roundup that have been applied globally) is having a devastating impact on ecosystems and human and animal health. This article provides more information and references. Organic standards strictly forbid the use of genetically engineered seeds and persistent biocides. Certified organic means GMO free.
Preserving the Genetic Diversity and Availability of Plant Varieties
While not a strict requirement of organic farming, we support the mission of the Open Source Seed Initiative (OSSI) which “is dedicated to maintaining fair and open access to plant genetic resources worldwide in order to ensure the availability of germplasm to farmers, gardeners, breeders, and communities of this and future generations.”
We avoid buying the patented seeds of a increasingly concentrated number of powerful multinationals, by purchasing all of our seeds from recognized OSSI Seed Company Partners.
Humane animal care (and avoiding the use of antibiotics)
It is well documented that the over-use of antibiotics in farm animals is leading to the development of dangerous antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. As organic farmers, we rely instead on natural ways of promoting and maintaining animal health. The organic philosophy and standards mean raising animals in harmony with nature, keeping animals naturally healthy and productive.
We do not remove our goats’ horns which, as well as avoiding unnecessary pain, allows them relief from summer heat. (See here for a longer discussion on reasons not to dis-bud.)
As well as the reward of raising healthy herds and flocks, happy goats and chickens make the best tasting and highest quality milk and eggs.