AN INTRODUCTION TO ORGANIC AGRICULTURE, by Jennifer Bearden UF/IFAS Extension Agent

OrganicVeggieFlyerPrint-2015-final-1Organic agriculture involves using methods that preserve the soil and environment and avoid most synthetic materials, such as those in most pesticides and antibiotics.

For products to be marketed as certified organic, farmers, ranchers and food processors must follow USDA Organic Standards.

In short, organic farms and processors:

  • preserve natural resources and biodiversity
  • support animal health and welfare
  • provide access to the outdoors so that animals can exercise their natural behaviors
  • only use approved materials
  • do not use genetically modified ingredients
  • receive annual onsite inspections
  • separate organic food from non-organic food

Organic farming doesn’t mean pesticide or chemical free. (The Organic Materials Review Institute has approved a long list of pesticides.)

Becoming “certified organic” takes time and some cost, but this is usually not a problem for most farmers because many consumers are willing to pay more for organic products.

Any land to be used for certified organic production must be free of any prohibited substance for at least three years before certification. The cost depends on the type of farm and region within the U.S., but some cost-share programs pay up to 75 percent of the cost.

The University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension will host a Small Farm Series on Organic Vegetable Production in January 2015.

We will meet from 6-7:30 p.m. January 15, 22 and 29 at our office at 3098 Airport Road in Crestview. The cost is $30 per person or $45 or a couple. Call 689-5850 or email bearden@ufl.edu to register by January 7 so we can order enough materials.

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