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Mountain Valley View Farm, Inc. Seeks Organic Certification

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 @ 11:07 AM Karen Hood

An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system; it has the integrity, the independence, and the benign dependence of an organism.
–Wendell Berry

Mountain Valley View Farm, Inc. has historically and currently implemented procedures to follow federal organic regulations to manage our small 30-acre family farm. Our philosophy has always supported organic farming, and we are currently working to complete the rigorous standards and paperwork necessary to become a certified organic farm. If you would like to learn more about organic farming, please click here to read an excellent article that provides a lot of great information about the history and nature of organic agriculture.

What does it mean to be certified organic?

In the US, federal organic legislation defines three levels of organics. Products made entirely with certified organic ingredients and methods can be labeled “100% organic”. Products with at least 95% organic ingredients can use the word “organic”. Both of these categories may also display the USDA organic seal. A third category, containing a minimum of 70% organic ingredients, can be labeled “made with organic ingredients”. In addition, products may also display the logo of the certification body that approved them. Products made with less than 70% organic ingredients can not advertise this information to consumers and can only mention this fact in the product’s ingredient statement.

How does a farm become certified?

Organic certification means that an independent, third party has verified that the requirements for organic production and handling have been met. The National Organic Program oversees the USDA’s required standards that all food sold as organic in the US must meet. Farms must apply for organic certification and seek renewal of that certification each year to ensure that they are still producing the highest quality organic food. In order to achieve certification, a farm must do the following:

  • Study the organic standards, which cover in specific detail what is and is not allowed for every aspect of farming, including storage, transport and sale.
  • Compliance — farm facilities and production methods must comply with the standards, which may involve modifying facilities, sourcing and changing suppliers, etc.
  • Documentation — extensive paperwork is required, detailing farm history and current set-up, and usually including results of soil and water tests.
  • Planning — a written annual production plan must be submitted, detailing everything from seed to sale: seed sources, field and crop locations, fertilization and pest control activities, harvest methods, storage locations, etc.
  • Inspection — annual on-farm inspections are required, with a physical tour, examination of records, and an oral interview.
  • Fee — an annual inspection/certification fee (currently starting at $400–$2,000/year, in the US and Canada, depending on the agency and the size of the operation).
  • Record-keeping — written, day-to-day farming and marketing records, covering all activities, must be available for inspection at any time.

In addition, short-notice or surprise inspections can be made, and specific tests (e.g. soil, water, plant tissue) may be requested.

For first-time farm certification, the soil must meet basic requirements of being free from use of prohibited substances (synthetic chemicals, etc) for a number of years. A conventional farm must adhere to organic standards for this period, often, two to three years. This is known as being in transition. Transitional crops are not considered fully organic.

What does this mean for Mountain Valley View Farm?

Mountain Valley View Farm is currently seeking organic certification. This process can take up to 120 days, sometimes even longer given the busy schedule of many food inspectors. Once certified, our family farm will be officially ushered into part of a growing community of people throughout the country who believe in living in a manner that is environmentally responsible and sustainable, and as healthy and natural as possible. This is something that we have believed in and practiced for many years as a family, and it is a privilege to now be able to bring those things beyond the borders of our family into the community we live in.

What does this mean for me?

Organic certification means that you can always trust food from Mountain Valley View Farm. It will always be not only fresh and delicious, but also grown 100% naturally without pesticides and other chemicals, nor will it be genetically modified in any way. Organically grown produce is higher in nutrients and beneficial to the body–it is food the way it was intended to be eaten, natural and nutritious.

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