The Issues Riddling Organic Will Set the Stage for the 2018 Farm Bill

It was a rollicking time for organic in D.C. last week.The Senate AG Committee held a hearing on global & local markets, specialty crops, and organics as they relate to the next Farm Bill. Chairman Pat Roberts gave a hi-five to organic farmers acknowledging that “they are responding to a market signal and increasing their margins.” He also attached some scorn to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) by stating “… it seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program (NOP).”

What do these seemingly diverging messages from the Chairman of the House Ag Committee mean for organic in the next Farm Bill? For answers, you must understand some of the issues currently vexing the organic seal. Continue reading

The Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems – 50 years Outstanding in Their Field

Nestled in the coastal range above Santa Cruz, CA. lays a living piece of history that continues to make significant contributions to organic agriculture. Dating back to 1967 when master gardener Alan Chadwick transformed the rolling chaparral into a prolific organic garden, the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS) has evolved into a multifaceted research, education, and public service endeavor.  The work at their 33 acre organic farm continues to make an impact on organic producers locally and across the globe. Continue reading

The Evolution of “Ponics” in Organic

This fall the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will meet in Jacksonville, Florida. Once again they will take up the subject of Hydroponic, Aquaponic, container and Bioponic production in organic. The fruition of this meeting may be to include or revoke these growing methods or to simply come up with definitions to clarify the process. However the NOSB decides these fit into the organic ecosystem is anyone’s guess, so it behooves all producers to understand the evolution of the dialogue, the differing views and the “Ponics” themselves.  Continue reading

Genetically Engineered Plants and Animals: The Ecology of Unknown Consequences

Imagine the primordial forest, a canopy dense with foliage, the floor strewn in dappled light. From the cool boreal woodlands to the tropical forests, trees have sustained complex ecosystems evolving over the millennia of time. Some trees live for decades and even centuries, laying down shade and forest duff, sustaining mosses, insects, birds and mammals. Their seed and pollen spread with the wind sometimes traveling hundreds of miles. What then could possibly go wrong with a forest of genetically engineered trees, a pasture of GE grass or genetically engineered animals? The answer is we don’t really know… but probably plenty. Continue reading

Denver Urban Gardens – A Bright Light in the Mile High City

This past spring I took some time away from the rigors of the NOSB meeting in Denver to visit one of the UNFI Foundation’s grant recipients. For over 32 years Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) has facilitated community access to unique growing spaces in neighborhoods throughout the area. The gardens empower people to have increased food security and better nutrition, improving economic security. Their hyper-local approach is creating shimmering urban vitality with organically grown food. Continue reading