farming methods 101

Our farmers use a variety of farming methods, all of which are designed to produce the most nutritious, delicious and sustainable products possible. Here are our farmers’ practices:

Certified Organic (CO) and Organically Grown (OG)

Our Certified Organic (CO) farms have taken the necessary steps to attain certification, and our Organically Grown (OG) farms have chosen not to certify their operation or are in the process of doing so. There are many factors in this decision-making process, where each farm’s system and business model impact that decision.

Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. It is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control. Organic farming includes the use of fertilizers and pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides) if they are considered natural (such as bone meal from animals or pyrethrin from flowers). Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of various methods including: synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides; plant growth regulators such as hormones; antibiotic use in livestock; genetically modified organisms; human sewage sludge; and nano-materials. Depending on whose definition is used, the goals in organic farming are sustainability, openness, independence, health, and safety. Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is an ecosystem approach to crop production and protection that combines different management strategies and practices to grow healthy crops and minimize the use of pesticides. IPM aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level (EIL).

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation defines IPM as “the careful consideration of all available pest control techniques and subsequent integration of appropriate measures that discourage the development of pest populations, and keep pesticides and other interventions to levels that are economically justified and reduce or minimize risks to human health and the environment. IPM emphasizes the growth of a healthy crop with the least possible disruption to agro-ecosystems and encourages natural pest control mechanisms.”

Family Farm (FAM)

Family farms often use organic & IPM methods, and may also use pesticides & chemical fertilizers. As a general rule, small farms use far fewer chemicals, and are able to stay more nimble with their decisions and practices than industrialized operations. They are also able to produce more food per acre. There are many economic advantages in farming on a small-scale. Local farmers generate a local economy in their communities. An American study showed that small farms with incomes of $100,000 or less spend almost 95 percent of their farm-related expenses within their local communities.

Conventional Farming (COV)

Conventional farming, also known as industrial agriculture, refers to farming systems which include the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and other continual inputs, genetically modified organisms, and other practices.