Congratulations to Jason and his team for successfully converting 673 acres of our farmland to Certified Organic farmland at two of our properties near Corvallis, OR. A copy of the Organic Certificate is available here.
Jason has done a tremendous amount of work over the past three years to gain this certification. The minimum requirements for certifying farmland include (modified from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_certification):
- Organic inputs only – avoid synthetic chemical inputs not on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc.), genetically modified organisms, irradiation, and the use of sewage sludge;
- 3 Years clean – farmland has been free from prohibited synthetic chemicals for three years;
- 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. In addition, short-notice or surprise inspections can be made, and specific tests (e.g. soil, water, plant tissue) may be requested.
- Fee — an annual inspection/certification fee (currently starting at $400–$2,000/year, depending on the certifying 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.
With Certified Organic farmland, we can now produce and sell Certified Organic crops, as well as produce livestock and eggs from chickens that were “Raised on Certified Organic Farmland”. The price premiums are worth the work, but the certification is also just a measure of our broader commitment to sustainable and regenerative agriculture.
Images below show the certified fields for the 526 acres at A2R Farm, and the 147 acres at Fern Road Farm respectively. These are significant additions to the Organic acreage in the Willamette Valley with 665 of these acres being cropland and 386 irrigated.
Special thanks to the inspectors and review staff at Oregon Tilth, one of the original certifying agencies that pre-date the national standards. We are very pleased to have successfully completed this process with them.
This is a major milestone, but is also only a step along our journey as we continue our work to get all our 2,000 acres certified organic (…with more farmland on the way).