What does it mean to be USDA Organic Certified?
1. We started with “Clean Soil”
Our soil is free of any chemicals to include chemical fertilizers or pesticides! Our land had not been farmed in over 200 years and had mature hardwoods when we arrived. We meticulously cut down the trees, removed the stumps while preserving the topsoil. NO topsoil can be brought in from anywhere!
2. We only purchase USDA Organic Certified Seed or planting stock
This ensures that there are NO GMOs or harmful chemicals in the seeds or plants!
We only use an OMRI (Organic Materials Research Institute) certified organic seed staring mix for seedling production.
3. We use cover crops or certified Organic approved Fertilizers for plant nutrition
We plant cover crops like USDA Certified Organic oats, wheat, pea and rye throughout the season to enhance the organic matter and nutrient content in our soils.
We use only OMRI Certified Organic fish, and kelp fertilizers and ground limestone when necessary.
4. We control weeds using natural means
We use natural mulches including seaweed and salt hay keep down weeds while preserving soil moisture and providing organic matter.
Winter cover crops like winter wheat and winter pea keep down the spring weed bloom while preserving and enriching the soil.
Mechanical weeding is completed either by hand, with hand tools or hopefully with a cultivator this year. We also flame weed! NO chemical weed killers are EVER used on the farm!!
5. Natural means of pest control
We have erected barriers like deer fencing and netting over the plants to deter pests. We have set natural traps around the perimeter of the farm to capture insects and pests like Japanese beetles and mice.
We attract beneficial insects and animals by several means including planting species like an eastern wildflower mix around the farm that attracts beneficial insects and also installing many bird houses. We have many beneficial insects and animals that eat our pests like toads, snakes, birds, praying mantis, lace wings, lady bugs, soldier bugs, many spiders and lots more!
We use inter-planting and rotation of crops to offset pest populations. We hand pick insects or wash plants with water. We allow for some insect damage! Use of Cover Crops helps offsets insect pest populations.
We use only an approved Organic certified pesticide (OMRI or Baysate Organic Approval) when absolutely essential to prevent decimation of a crop. For example, we use an approved baking soda and vegetable oil wash for powdery mildew on our squash and cucumber leaves.
6. Water Conservation
We have installed a well specifically for farm use. The well water is tested every year to ensure purity. We have installed a micro-irrigation (drip) watering system to minimize the amount of water used for irrigation.
7. Soil Conservation
We disturb the soil as minimally as possible. This ensures that the biome (living organisms) stay healthy to breakdown organic matter providing needed nutrition for the growing plants. This also helps with keeping pest populations in check and reduces chances of water and wind erosion. We also work diligently at keeping the soil covered most all of the time with a vegetable crop, cover crop or mulch. Using our micro-irrrigation system also reduces water erosion and run-off.
8. Washing and Packaging
To wash our vegetables we use only our tested well water. To wash tools or picking baskets we use water and organic vinegar. We can use only new packing supplies to ensure the food is clean and free from any contamination. All equipment must either be new or thoroughly cleaned before use on the farm.
9. Records & Inspections
We must keep accurate daily records of everything we do on the farm including soil preparation, watering, seed purchases, planting, fertilizing, pest management, harvesting, sales and much more!
We applied to Baystate Organic Certifiers for our initial and subsequent certifications and must follow all USDA Organic Certification Standards. Our facility and records are inspected on a regular basis by Baystate Organic Certifiers. Follow the link to view our certification.
10. We must pay a fee!
The fee schedule is based on our expected sales for the year.