Organic Life One Baby Step at a Time
Altering our daily diets by cutting out processed, GMO or genetically modified foods to consume organic and whole foods, fruits and vegetables has proven to be a journey of rediscovery. My husband and I made the very real and scary decision to invest our life savings, with no prior working knowledge of a farm, to open our family run farm, 1860 Organics, to improve our families overall health and to eliminate our consumption of the “dirty dozen.” Here lies our first stride towards becoming self-sustainable, which is our long term life goal.
Our decision to open our farm was not come by lightly, in fact it was not until my husband lost his job mid-Summer 2010 that we then decided to take the plunge. Our first and second years of business we managed to squeeze by paying our bills and making our first strides towards feeding our family certified organic produce. We felt a sense of accomplishment although we were still a long way from making any sort of profit. Our third year of business has not been very glamorous, noted as one of the worst farming years ever. Extreme heat, cold and torrential rains have devastated farms of small and large scale. This was to be our first year offering a CSA or Consumer Supported Agriculture. We began our season with monumental crop loss due to flooding, our potatoes rotted in the ground, our peas turned yellow and died, even our lettuces just wilted. The heat caused our turnips and kale to bolt or go to seed before we could harvest them. Our spring did not have a sunny start to our business venture. With fifteen families taking a risk in our business by purchasing a CSA share, we made the hard decision to suspend the shares indefinitely to allow the farm to catch up, so we could have produce to sell at the market. Without the flow of income coming into the farm we would not be able to sustain the farm and continue this year. Here was our first taste at the unpredictability of the farming business. Most of our members understood and wished us well, after all buying a CSA share is a gamble. Five weeks after we suspended the shares we were able to re-open the CSA pickups and offered to include picking at the farm on Monday’s for our members to help compensate for their losses. Our second taste of unpredictability struck just as we thought we were back on track; my husband landed a week long hospital stay due to suffering a third degree burn. While my husband was “resting” in the hospital I had the pleasure of talking with the gentleman who performed our inspection for our organic certification. I found his candor about other farms intriguing and refreshing. Our conversation began with “wow you guys really use one hundred percent certified organic seed?” He went on to explain “that you can be certified organic without using all certified organic seed and soil.” “You can also use fertilizers and pesticides, just in small amounts.” As if using a smaller amount of pesticides and fertilizers would mean that they will not be absorbed by the produce? Why would GMO seed be acceptable to plant on an organic farms soil? Why are we spending twelve hundred dollars a year to prove we are practicing one hundred percent certified organic farming, when others are practicing twenty percent certified organic farming while receiving the same certificate? Does not seem hardly fair that other’s pass of conventional produce as organic, just because they use twenty percent organic seed. At that moment we realized if we do not grow it or we do not personally know the people who grew and harvested the produce, we do not want our family to consume it. When we decided to change our families way of eating, our financial standings was one thing that had to be considered, we had decisions to make about what we could live without to make our vision a reality. As I am sure you well know, there is quite a substantial difference in price, generally a fifty...
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