Establishing a farm, with all of the necessary equipment and infrastructure, is no easy task. And starting a certified organic farm requires that we adhere to strict guidelines and maintain extensive files on every farm activity, from keeping receipts for all purchases to what products we use to amend our soil, dates seeds are planted and their location on the farm to even keeping records of wildlife traversing the property.
We submit annual-biannual soil samples to the University of Massachusetts for testing so we know what amendments are needed in order to grow happy healthy plants.
If that isn’t enough to make someone think twice about starting a farm, Oregon Tilth, our organic certifier, sends out an inspector each year to review our farm records and property to ensure our farm practices comply with National Organic Program (NOP) standards. From choosing what veggies to grow, installing drip irrigation, buying equipment, to our five-hour annual inspection, we incur substantial costs even before we sell our first carrot. That’s why Uncle Sam allows start-up farms seven years to show a profit.
Have you ever heard of the Dirty Dozen, and I’m not talking about the 1967 all-star cast movie? I’m referring to the annual report the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases each March listing the top 46 conventionally-grown produce foods contaminated by pesticides. Using information collected from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration’s Pesticide Data Program, the EWG tests samples of fresh produce, washed and ready to eat, for pesticides. They then release their findings in their annual Dirty Dozen list. For example, kale landed number three on this year’s list of most contaminated produce.
Having worked his whole career in the automotive industry, Loren has been exposed to toxic chemicals on a daily basis. He knew when we started our farm, he wanted to grow clean healthy chemical-free food for not only ourselves, but also for our neighbors and customers here in the Sky Valley.
As for me, I’ve always said, “Eat food the way God made it.” And since I discovered the “Dirty Dozen” list more than a decade ago I’ve opted for organic produce whenever possible. But in 2009 when I was diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis), an autoimmune condition with no-known cure and the cause of which remains a mystery, doctors told me, “As much as possible, Eat Organic.” When you’re talking about preserving brain health and mobility, you can bet eating organic became vital.
So, when Loren and I decided to establish our farm, there was no question we would grow organic—from the meals we serve our own family, to the produce we offer our Sky Valley neighbors and customers, Loren and I are dedicated to growing fruits & veggies you don’t have to worry about.