Beyond Organic: Leadership, Excellence, Performance

23 Oct

Biologists have come to fantastic progress with genetic engineering. Followers of Monsanto eagerly look forward to next year’s seed innovations. Midsize farms have built-in progress goals such as measurable expansion, equipment upgrades, herd expansion, etc. However, for those that are not progressing or are losing money, having a certified field might be a nice boost. Having a direct market represents a good option for your family. A garden can provide much of the money, trees, heart, soil, seeds, and experience that you need to start organic farming. The other time it’s appropriate is for those who are just entering being a farmer, because they need something they can make good money on small scale without so much equipment. We need more interested being farmers, to tread that trail each morning during the summer and build solutions that work for the winter, energy, food, water, and innovative solutions for soil building, strategy, hope, and peace. I believe this farming is beyond organic as it’s enforced, but farming organically is good practice.

The correct technology in these fields is ecological, humane. Permanent agriculture has been around by different names for a long time. My blog is not trying to impose organic certification (it’s too expensive, heavy..) but rather a model based on farms that are working from the wisdom and understanding of those who are doing it. (Perfect) examples include Julio Pizote (Finca ANDAR Costa Rica) where I learned farming, Joel Salatin (Polyface Farm), Mark Shepard (Forest Agriculture Enterprises), George Cunningham in California (Cunningham Organic Farm), Alan Savoy fighting desertification in Zimbabwe. Good examples include almost anyone from If organic is appropriate technology for farming, or necessary for you to sell, then subscribe to the USDA NOP certification. A better method is outlined at the IFOAM Norms, which are internationally agreed on and more appropriate. Appropriate being, it pays for itself in the first year and a beta can be made with low (zero) materials cost. A direct market represents a good option for your family. There are secondary cooperatives, such as Organic Valley or Organic Alliance that can follow up with your (certified, mid-size) farm.

The addition of a profitable small-scale farm sector in the country will mean a change to some. Practically, managing a small farm can be a lot of work. There’s chickens to let out, eggs to cook, a lettuce cold frame to check on, more clothes to do, and a large raised bed garden. Another person will have to be working in the field, raising a cash crop for the family and also keeping a part-time job somewhere to pay the bills. Depending on where you are, markets might demand fava beans, sweet potatoes, squashes zucchinis and cucumbers, hops, fruit, berries (u-pick if you’re good at marketing), cheese, milk, cotton, bananas. Sungold tomatoes can be grown as a reliable cash crop in greenhouses for an extended season harvest.  Regardless of where you are on the small farm, you will have to be alert and flexible and ready to attend to whatever comes up.

New models must also be appropriate for those without land for a farm. If some 45 million small farmers are going to be created in the US, or near 450 million across the world, it’s apparant that a grow-your-own-farm model should fit those without hundreds of thousands of dollars and willing to lose money each year. My “urban farm” this year a) fit a need that everyone had, and b) gave me my capital back plus $2 a day. I didn’t have to spend on fence or land. My attempt to raise vegetables and animals in the city is one that has succeeded elsewhere .. New York, Boston, Detroit, Milwaukee, Portland, and Oakland (check out “Farm City”) are all well known for their propensity to raise food inside the city and we’re all part of a growing urban farm movement. In Japan, apparantly plants are grown in containers on every windowsill. Rice farms there average a quarter acre per family (Fukuyama). Small organic farm in your backyard if you can; it will at least support itself and be an addition of good resilience that you can not afford to live without. Sort of like a victory garden, if Barack Obama is listening. “Usefulness” is an added benefit: sheep wool or produce in small scale might not be able to sell, but I wear my product once it’s spun into sweaters. Try everything the first year, and second year expand. If you choose to market, raise something you think is useful and are good at growing.

-Eddie Che


3 Responses to “Beyond Organic: Leadership, Excellence, Performance”


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