Checklist for Turning Your Small Farm into an Organic Farm

Are you considering getting organic certification for your small farm? This can be a worthy pursuit since more and more consumers are requesting organic and ethically grown food; however, it can also be a challenging process if you aren't familiar with it. The following checklist can help you understand everything that goes into organic certification, so you can make an informed decision.

#1: Meet with a certification agent

The process begins with a certification agent. This person will be your point of contact throughout the process. Your first meeting will entail going over your goals and looking over the history of your farm in terms of past pesticide and fertilizer uses, as well as the crop history. You will then draft up a transition plan that will be your guide to certification.

#2: Collect paperwork

There is a lot of paperwork involved with transition. Paperwork may be necessary for things like a water and soil test, or the filling out of adjoining land use forms. It is vital that you turn everything in by the dates listed in your transition plan or you could compromise the entire process.

#3: Get approval for crops and inputs

The simplest way to work through transition and get certified is to choose pre-approved crop sources and to only use inputs, such as pesticides and fertilizers, from approved organic fertilizer suppliers. If you have a crop or product you want to use that isn't on the list, it can take a lot of paperwork, testing, and time to have it certified organic. If cost and time is of the utmost importance, then stick with certified organic suppliers.

#4: Turn in your records

You will have to keep detailed records of your crops and land use, your use of inputs like organic fertilizer, and your annual adjacent land use forms. You must also perform regular soil and water tests, which is often key to eventually moving out of the transition period and achieving your organic certification. These tests are important because they will show when the soil and water is "clean," or in other words, when the chemicals inputs from the pre-organic period have finally become diluted enough that they no longer have an effect on your crops.

Starting the certification process is no small undertaking, but it can be worth it. Contact a certification agency and begin working with suppliers of organic farm fertilizers to start the process.