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Re: defining "organic" standards


Rick wrote:

>I was under the impression that the Organic Farming Research Foundation in 
>Santa Cruz, California was the official policy-generating NGO concerned with 
>organic certification in the United States, 

Oh, they and the over 70 different private certification groups (check out
the ATTRA site for the complete list!) really, really wish they were.  Right
now, standards are in the hands of each state until the USDA Organic Rule
kicks in (next year?) so each state has the choice of what certifiers they
want to use.  There is an official USDA committee (the name escapes me) that
is to update the National Rule -- folks are kicking about *that* because
agri-business, of course, is *well* represented!

Adam probably described the whole "what is organic" questions both more
accurately and more poetically than anyone else I've seen lately.
Basically, you educate yourself as to what "organic" is, you decide if
you're going to follow a particular strain (BioIntensive, BioDynamic, etc)
and you work out what "organic" means in the context of your community.  

Basically, sustainable ag means that you try to work with nature rather than
against it.  For someone like me who was trained in environmental studies,
it's just not that hard to have a shelf of decent books (you rarely go wrong
with Rodale Press, but there are other decent books out there) and be a
reference person for the garden about how to do "whatever".  I constantly
tell people that you SHOULDN'T expect to keep all this info in your head --
it's *okay* to have reference books on composting, companion planting, pest
control, etc  and to refer to them when necessary.

The short form at my community garden is that organic means "no chemical
pesticides, herbicides, fertilzers and/or pressure-treated wood."  The long
form is that folks call me when weird things happend (the Mexican Bean
Beetles are back!) or see what I'm doing at the community garden in my own
plot.  (Composting is your friend, but very few of my gardeners have their
own pile.  However, they DO dump all their stuff into *my* compost pile.
You take what you can get and at least *my* soil is getting better! ;-))

Good luck! 

Dorene

Dorene Pasekoff, Coordinator
St. John's United Church of Christ Organic Community Garden

A mission of 
St. John's United Church of Christ, 315 Gay Street, Phoenixville, PA  19460


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