Farming, for most people, was just – well, farming. It simply meant toiling under the hot sun, working with soil to make things grow. These days, though, you have a choice in organic farming – one of the hot buzzwords in agriculturally-inclined corners. So what is it exactly and why are its proponents so passionate about it? Learn more about how this approach works and how you can apply its principles to start your own organic gardening successfully.
Organic is holistic
Organic farming uses a holistic approach that ensures the care not just of plants but also of the crops, soil, and the environment. Instead of fighting what comes naturally with man-made solutions, it works with Nature.
Organic has a wide range of production
Organic gardening and farming are not limited to just fruits and vegetables. It also includes meat, eggs, dairy, grains, and cotton. Only if the manner of growing, care, and harvesting allow the products to remain in a condition that is closest to the natural state can the process be considered organic. Hence, the tendency of organic farmers to eschew the use of chemicals, antibiotics and artificial growth hormones to encourage size and mass, particularly in livestock. This is why organic livestock farmers only use organic feed for their animals and allow them to roam freely outdoors.
Organic farming is monitored
Organic farming became a monitored practice in 1994. This allowed the certification of 2,500 to 3,000 organic farms in the U.S. Currently, the country has over 10,000 organic farms that are certified, providing about 2% of the U.S. food supply.
Organic gardening and farming begin with the right soil
The right organic soil is a good mix that contains all the right natural ingredients to ensure the health of both animals and crops. With the right soil, the farm or garden is healthier, has fewer incidences of diseases, and is generally more productive.
Organic gardening and farming rest on 3 basic parts of a solid foundation. These are:
Compost: Compost is made of organic decaying materials such as food waste (fruits, vegetables, tea bags, coffee grounds), yard trimmings (leaves, grass, wood chips), and animal manure. Compost allows for the growth of beneficial microorganisms such as fungi and bacteria that create moist, nutrient-rich soil.
Cover crop and green manure: Cover crops are the type of plants that are specifically grown to protect the surface of the soil from wind and water. They also help maintain the structure of the soil and encourage the growth of beneficial organic soil matter. Green manure is also a type of cover crop grown to increase soil nutrients. Cover crops help control weeds and distract pests, acting as a natural fertilizer and pesticide.
Crop rotation: Crop rotation is the practice of switching the use of certain portions of land for different purposes during different seasons. For example, a portion of a field may be used for growing pumpkins while the other portion may be used for grazing sheep. After a year, the use of the fields will be switched. Changing the assigned use keeps the soil healthy and prevents the depletion of nutrients.
Organic farming is for animals, too.
Where animals are concerned in organic farming, their care and keep are done as close to natural as possible. Humane treatment is given and the conditions of their natural habitat are maintained. Livestock is not treated with growth hormones and antibiotics. As part of their preventative care, they may be given vaccinations. Their diet consists of 100% organic feed.
What Organic Gardening and Farming Hopes to Achieve
Essentially, organic farming seeks to return or at least replicate the practice of old-time farming where quality and not quantity is the main focus. When crops and livestock are grown the natural way, there is less worry about pesticide poisoning and hormone alteration.
Organic farming is increasingly becoming popular, which means that it will be much easier to buy organic foods at local supermarkets. Organic foods are priced higher but they are ultimately worth it. It really is for the consumer to decide.