Tag Archives: organic certification

A visit to Addison Hop Farm

Kris Anderson of Addison Hop Farm
Kris Anderson of Addison Hop Farm

blogimage-1Jenny the dog was first to greet blogimage-2me as I approached the certified organic hop yard in Addison. The much needed sun was beating down on the hops, preparing them for an end of August or early September harvest.

Kris Anderson of Addison Hop Farm has decided on a few reliable varieties that are wanted by local breweries and cider makers like Citizen Cider.

We stroll down the rows of brewer’s gold, cascade, and newport hops that stand fourteen feet tall and are held up by cedar posts, wire, and twine.

Two adriondack chairs overlook the lower hop yard, the green mountains, and the barn adjoining the hop yard used for drying and vacuum sealing the hops prior to being stored and delivered. Kris takes pride in the 100 to 200 pounds of certified organic hops he produces each season and looks forward to the possibility of expanding his acreage.

“Growing hops is a lot of work but growing hops organically does not make it more difficult than it would be otherwise”, says Kris.

There are few farmers specializing in growing hops in the northeast and even fewer growing organically so it was a treat to visit and find out what all the buzz is about.

Thanks for visiting with me, Kris!

Johanna Setta, Certification Specialist Assistant
Vermont Organic Farmers

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What does “certified organic” mean?

What DOES certified organic mean? Who determines that definition, and how is it enforced?

Get the answers to these questions and more in our exclusive interview with Jean Richardson, National Organic Standards Board member and organic certification inspector for VOF.

Use the navigation menu at the beginning of the video to jump to the topic you’re interested in – organic standards, international regulations, the three organic categories for processed products, the NOSB, enforcement, and more – or watch the full 30-minute interview for a comprehensive overview of what, exactly, organic certification means.
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PS – Spread the word! Like, share, and comment on the video, and ask your local public access TV station to play it, too. They’ll find it on the Vermont Media Exchange by the name PolicyUpdateOrganicCertification.mpg. Thanks!

Is Organic Certification Right for You?

Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.
Farms often find that organic certification helps their sales. Photo by Elizabeth Ferry at Cedar Circle Farm.

Choosing whether or not to become certified organic is a decision that has a lot of factors, including environmental and social values, marketing channels, farm size and type, and more.

We’re working on developing materials to help farmers better understand the potential benefits and challenges of organic certification, including costs, recordkeeping, pricing, marketing, and political impacts.

As part of that effort – and in order to help us understand why farmers do or do not pursue certification – we held (and filmed) a workshop at the 2014 Winter Conference on the topic of “Is Organic Certification Right for my Business?”

This workshop featured three Vermont farmers discussing their experiences with organic certification, and we recommend it as a good starting place if you are considering certification for your farm.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be working with a team of UVM students to organize a few focus groups to explore more deeply what motivates or prevents certification on Vermont’s farms. We’re looking for both certified and non-certified farmers of all kinds to take part. If you’d like to talk with us about your experience with certification, please contact Charles.

You can learn more about the organic certification regulations and requirements on the Vermont Organic Farmers webpage. There are also a number of helpful resources from ATTRA and eOrganic, a program of the university extension network.

Hydroponics and Organics at the VOF Annual Meeting

Should hydroponic tomatoes be eligible for organic certification?
Should hydroponic tomatoes be eligible for organic certification? VOF producers can discuss this and other topics at the Annual Meeting.

It’s time once again for the annual Vermont Organic Farmers’ Producer meeting. This year the meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 29 from 10-2 at the Champlain Valley Expo’s Miller North conference room, as part of the Vermont Farm Show.

This annual coming together of organic farmers and processors is an important tradition that goes back to 1985, when farmers met for the first time to discuss the definition of organic farming. It’s been said that these meetings were sometimes contentious as growers disagreed about what practices and what inputs should be allowed for organic production. But overall, its seems people appreciated the frank and open discussions that challenged growers to improve their practices and pushed them to be more innovative.

I often hear growers comment today that they no longer attend the VOF meeting either because they feel powerless within the current system or that they believe there are no important issues left to discuss.  This couldn’t be further from the truth! The voices of organic farmers and processors are sought after on local and national levels and the opinions of organic producers carry significant weight.

And rest assured, there are still many important issues to discuss where growers’ opinions are needed and valued!

This year one of our long-time organic growers has brought one such topic up for discussion.  David Chapman, owner and operator of Long Wind Farm, is strongly opposed to the organic certification of hydroponic crops and is asking VOF farmers to vote on a resolution to prohibit the certification of organic hydroponic crops nationally.

Farmers and consumers alike can sign David’s petition outlining why hydroponics are not compatible with the organic standards.

VOF supports David’s petition and has included the following resolution to be discussed and voted on at our annual meeting.

Background: In 2010, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) passed a recommendation prohibiting crop production systems that eliminate soil, such as hydroponics and aeroponics, from obtaining organic certification.  In this recommendation the NOSB clarified that soil-plant ecology is at the foundation of organic farming.  Despite the fact that the Organic Food Production Act mandates that the NOSB advise the National Organic Program on implementing the organic regulations, this recommendation has yet to be accepted and added to the law.

Currently some certification agencies certify hydroponic operations as organic despite the NOSB recommendation and the NOP allows this practice to continue unrestricted.  Mexico, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and 24 European countries, (including Holland, England, Germany, Italy, France, and Spain) all prohibit hydroponic vegetable production to be sold as organic in their own countries. Historically, Vermont Organic Farmers has never certified hydroponic operations based on the idea that it is not compatible with organic farming principles.

Proposal: Vermont Organic Farmers demand that the National Organic Program accept the 2010 NOSB recommendation to prohibit soil-less hydroponic vegetable production as certified organic.

I look forward to discussing this and other topics with organic producers at the Vermont Farm Show on Wednesday, January 29th from 10-2 in Essex Junction.  Come join us for a lunch of delicious local and organic food, good conversation, and to make sure your opinion is heard.

Please RSVP for the meeting!

Can’t make it? Not a certified producer? Leave a comment here with your thoughts!

[By Nicole Dehne, VOF Program Coordinator]