Organic Integrity (Philosophy Part I)

An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity, the independence and the benign dependence of an organism.” – Wendell Berry 

ORGANIC INTEGRITY…

“Organic farming practices can conserve soil, increase soil health, protect water and contribute to biological diversity within – and often beyond – its boundaries.”  So states the National Organic Program, Section 205.2, which speaks to natural resource management on a certified organic farm.  From Wikipedia – “Some natural resources such as sunlight and air can be found everywhere, and are known as ubiquitous resources. However, most resources only occur in small sporadic areas, and are referred to as localized resources. There are very few resources that are considered inexhaustible – these are solar radiation, geothermal energy, and air.  The vast majority of resources are exhaustible, which means they have a finite quantity, and can be depleted if managed improperly. “  If managed improperly.  That caveat lies at the heart of NOP Sect. 205.2.  Farming can be hard on a piece of land.  Can be.  It can take the nutrients, and fertility, out of the soil.  It can exhaust water supplies.  It can erode the land, strip it of the natural habitats upon which wildlife depends and, in the worst cases, poison it with synthetics.  Farming can do these things, but it does not have to.  Organic farming can be hard on a farmer.  Nurturing soil health and natural fertility takes time and attention.  Conserving water through means such as drip irrigation and heavy mulching require financial commitments.   Maintaining natural habitats takes planning and, in some cases, foregoing the cultivation of parts of the farm.  Weeding by hand, composting animal bedding, planning and planting for pollinators, these all take time.  A lot of time.  And every minute of it is worth it.  Wendell Berry said it best.  “The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility.  To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.” It is in that spirit that we are committed to the principles, and pledged to the practices, of organic farming.  The organic apple you see on your grocer’s shelf is more than simply a piece of fruit not fed synthetic fertilizers or sprayed with pesticides.  It is much more.  It is the embodiment of responsible farming, conservation and preservation.  It is the embodiment of our care for the Earth.

It is important that we recognize and remember that, as organic farmers, we are not the only ones pledged to the care of the Earth.  So too are all the people who support us – chefs, produce managers, the community – people for whom we are sincerely grateful.  Organic costs more, there is just no getting around that, and the chef, the produce manager, the consumers who understand that, are just as much the stewards of this farm as we are.   Stewards bent on a future of healthy soil, clean water and biological diversity.  In these things we are very glad to be in your company.

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