As organic food gains in popularity and demand, we all celebrate that our society is increasing their awareness around food. So what does organic mean these days and are there differences within that category? The answer is most definitely YES. So what does LotFotL mean when they say organic?
First of all, LotFotL is certified organic by MOSA. MOSA inspects our farm annually to verify that we are farming in accordance with certain standards. These standards are put in place by the US government, giving everyone an agreed upon definition of what is acceptable and what is not. They look at everything from how many days you wait between putting down manure and harvesting, to what language we use in marketing, to requiring the farmer to track activity from the seed to the sale and in between. Certifying helps to build trust between us and our customers and gives a starting place to grow our relationship. But, there can be a big gap between the practices of one organic grower and another. What pesticides does the farmer use? How does the farmer protect, love, and nurture the soil? These decisions are personal and are the things you learn by knowing your farmer.
One example from LotFotL would be our very limited use of organically approved pesticides. Although there are broad spectrum (wide range of bugs killed by) pesticides that are allowed in organics, we hesitate to use them. The producers of these botanical formulas brag about how many different species of “pests” are killed using these products. We do not agree that all bugs are pests and would rather deal with a smaller yield preferential than a destabilized ratio of predator bugs and problem bugs!
Vegetable growing can be very hard on the soil if the operator is not conscientious. The constant mechanical weeding on organic vegetable farms can weaken soil particle bonds, resulting in soil textures and consistencies that over time will be less advantageous for cropping. To reduce these impacts we utilize dairy manure as a great food resource for our soil. That’s right. We feed our soil cow poop! In spreading 10-20 tons of manure per acre in fall, we not only recharge a mineral and nutrient feedstock for the plants, but replenish the soil with carbon and other nutrients that are removed by vegetable harvesting. As the soil’s enzymes and bacteria break this material down, they leave behind the building blocks of humus, a thick goo that helps the soil hold together, and keep moisture nearby. The tilth(looseness) of our soils would be lacking, had we followed the standard practices of simply applying pelletized chicken manure and trace minerals as needed.
What do these practices mean for your CSA experience with LotFotL? Well, for one, you should take heart in knowing that we are not out here depleting the soil, killing all the bugs, and upsetting the balances of the life process on the farm. Your dollars are not only spent on buying food for your family, but contribute to growing this brand of agriculture: a brand that puts the stability of the biotic community and health of the soil first and foremost.
Caring for the soil and the living community does require some sacrifices. Some of the bugs we don’t kill with sprays make holes in leafy greens, or hang out in the cabbages and heads of lettuces. Our dedication to preserving the ecosystems of LotFotL might end up accidentally exporting some of our pests and predators to your homes on occasion, despite our best washing efforts. We do our best to live in harmony as a participant in this system rather than dominate over it. In choosing a more eco-centric view, we have learned to live with a few holes in our greens and tolerate some green worms on our cabbage.
It is our hope that our customers will value the same things that we do. Throughout the season, we make an effort to talk about how and why things are the way they are in our fields. We try to celebrate the good the bad and the ugly(ish), while supplying our customers with high quality, delicious, fresh food. But, we also want to educate about why the ugly (a worm in your broccoli) might be beautiful (saved habitat and healthier eco-system). We hope the time and energy that we put into our soils and the nurturing we give to the farm holds value for you as well.
Thank you for getting to know your farmer and the brand of organic that you have chosen.