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RambleRill Farm is proud to be a US Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified organic farm. Being certified organic entails not using synthetic insecticides, herbicides, or fertilizers---but it is much more than that. Organic agriculture is a whole-farm approach that entails striving to work in harmony with natural processes and employing practices healthy for humans, animals, and the environment. The USDA defines organic agriculture as “a production system that is managed to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
To become certified, farms prepare an application that includes:
Organic System Plans are updated and farm inspections are conducted annually by a USDA-accredited certifying agent. If the farmer determines that deviations from the Organic System Plan are necessary, the farmer consults with the certifying agent to ensure continued compliance with National Organic Standards.
The author and farmer Wendell Berry wrote that "To husband is to use with care, to keep, to save, to make last, to conserve. . . . Husbandry is the name of all practices that sustain life by connecting us conservingly to our places and our world. . . ." We have striven to be good husbands to our farm since the beginning---even before we became certified organic. Largely because of the detailed recordkeeping and careful planning that organic certification requires, becoming certified organic has helped us to practice better husbandry.
Certified Organic as a Baseline
While organic principles are integral to our farming approach, they are not the only ones that guide our work. Organic principles and practices serve as a baseline that we continually seek to exceed in our efforts to become better farmers and people. For example, being certified organic does not necessarily entail supporting local community and local economy. We buy locally and sell locally in an effort to help our community and home place thrive. Also, although naturally based pesticides are permitted in organic farming, we refrain from using any herbicides, insecticides, or fungicides whether organic or synthetic.
Being certified organic means that we adhere to specific practices documented in the National Organic Standards, which anyone can access on-line. We have often heard farmers who are not certified organic say that they follow organic practices. Problematically for the customer, definitions of “organic” in this context can vary from farm to farm. As a certified organic farm, we have detailed knowledge and documentation of the history, from seed to sale, of each and every fruit, vegetable, and mushroom that we grow. We know that the food we grow is produced using practices intended to preserve and improve human, animal, and environmental health. We view it as our responsibility to share information about our growing practices with our customers who want to eat food that is safe and healthy. We view our certified organic status as a means of making our practices transparent to customers and as an invitation to conversation!