My Journey with Organic Certification
Ever since Jim and I started Livin’ Spoonful, we were committed to 100% organic ingredients. In our minds, there was no other way to be offering food to people that was truly nourishing, with the intention of helping them to thrive. That was almost 13 years ago.
Today, with our feet on the ground for our first season at Headwaters, we are finally realizing our vision. Growing our own food ingredients for our raw, vegan crackers. It has been such a joy to be able to start Gentle Rain Farm and be a part of this amazing program and opportunity.
Our major task this winter was to certify our farm as organically grown. Since “organic” is governed by federal law, we submitted a multi-page application with our Organic System Plan to our certifier. We had to describe all the ways, down to the smallest detail, that we would comply with the National Organic Program.
Success is in the Details
We had to list every single fertilizer, pest control substance and potting mix we use, as well as showing who certifies it for use in organic systems. I even had to provide paperwork about the ingredients of the organic coating on my organic seeds (this makes them easier to sow). The biggest issue by far was in the propagation house. There we had to put a plastic barrier between our table and the one adjoining, in the unlikely event that something from my neighbor’s table splashes or sprays onto my plants.
Finally, in March we had a detailed inspection at the farm by the certification agency we chose, Oregon Tilth. I met with the Tilth inspector for a few hours. He said that very few farms get through their first inspection without any non-compliance issues, but we did! Due in part to good planning and spending a lot of time doing the homework, we passed. The inspector appreciated all the attention to detail in terms of food safety and avoiding contamination. Well-organized for certified organic operations, Headwaters contributed important piece – infrastructure.
The fields are so green and the cover crop is thick and abundant. I am keen to discover what the season will offer!
Second in the “From Our Farmers” series, previously published at emswcd.org, May 15, 2015.