There are a lot of food labels used out there without any legal definition, e.g. “natural,” “no-spray,” “hormone-free,” and even “local,” so we feel it is important for our members to know how we do things. Last month we completed the on-site inspection phase of our eighth annual Organic Certification through the Baystate Organic Certifiers agency.
We are proud to be a USDA Certified Organic farm, but some people may wonder what exactly does that mean? Primarily, it means that our commitment to our members to provide you with produce — free of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and genetically-modified organisms — which has been grown in a manner that is sustainable and respectful of the natural environment, goes beyond just our promise to you.
As stated by the CT Department of Agriculture “[the National Organic] program includes organic standards, prohibited practices, requirements producers need to meet, and the list of allowed and prohibited materials. The complexities of this certification have created the hardest commodity standards any producers have to comply with.
The grower or livestock producer who wishes to become certified organic must provide proof of using approved USDA organic standards and methods. These standards and methods integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. All growers or livestock producers wishing to market their products as certified organic must follow the laws that regulate the creation, production, handling, labeling, and trade of their organic products. These producers are also subject to random sampling verifying these practices are being followed.
Through these methods, the integrity of organic products is maintained, and with the inspections and product testing, consumers can purchase these items with confidence, knowing organic standards are being followed.”
A farmer must produce three years of Organic-compliant land history records before you can be eligible to apply for Organic certification. Once certified, you are required to keep extensive records of all seed sources, crop rotation plans, pest management, nutrient stewardship, and soil testing. A written audit is performed annually along with an onsite inspection and random tissue sampling to validate compliance.
We, at Oxen Hill Farm, are proud to be in our eighth season of Organic certification, and eleventh season of organic management practices.