Organic and Conventional Farming
A farmer’s choice gives us all choice
Organic and conventional are often looked at as black and white. It’s either one or the other, so pick your side. But there’s actually a lot of common ground between these two farming methods, and there’s a place for both.
And for a farmer, it’s not about choosing the one style that’s best, because one isn’t inherently better. It’s about choosing what works best for the farm while still producing safe, quality food. And just like different factors might impact how you select groceries, farmers look at geography, weather, soil type, end market, type of crop, labor and equipment – all variables that make a farm uniquely different from the next one.
So, we’re sharing perspectives that look at why a farmer chooses organic, conventional … or both.
"All of our fresh, local produce is grown using organic..."
"I’d suggest there’s room for all types of farming."
"Becoming USDA Certified Organic made sense for our farm."
"For our farm, at this moment in time, it’s organic..."
GROWING FRESH, LOCAL PRODUCE ON A CONVENTIONAL FARM
A passion for produce started with my dad, Wayne, before he was even out of his teen years. It also introduced him to his wife (and our
mom), Daryl, who became more than a seasonal worker. Today our whole family, including us four children, plays an integral part in cultivating success for Windy Acres Farms in Geneva, Illinois.
- Flowers and farm-harvested honey in the spring.
- Juicy, sweet fruits and fresh vegetables in the summer.
- Plump pumpkins, gourds and crisp apples in the fall.
- Christmas trees in the winter.
That’s just to name a few. And all of our fresh, local produce is grown using a mix of conventional and organic methods. It’s an approach that’s worked for 35 years – using organic practices day in and day out while only applying chemicals as a very last line of protection for our plants and produce. Watch the video to see why we believe our farming methods are a safe choice for your table and ours.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO CHOOSE A SIDE
I have neighbors who grow vegetables on large amounts of land using conventional methods along a state highway, perfect for a farm stand. They don’t believe there’s anything wrong with organic, but their choice is based on the fact that organic production requires more labor which is not readily available to them.
- Pick whatever works best for YOU.
- Don’t be misled by fear-mongers and unjustified guilt.
- Ask questions of those who are actually growing the food, and discount the opinions of those who must tear down someone else’s choice to make theirs look most appealing.
- Buy what you want given your own budget and preferences.
Organic Offers a Different Approach to Farming
We’re most excited about the sense of community and the relationships we’re building. Local food systems create a community of farmers engaging a community of consumers. I enjoy the energy and excitement of it.
- Certification allowed us to do what we were doing before, but get paid for it through higher prices.
- USDA certification is needed for those who buy from us and need documentation. If we’re selling to a store for example, the USDA certification becomes
more important, as does our brand.
- For our customers who buy directly from us, the USDA certification isn’t as important because they have made the effort to “know your farmer”, usually
have visited the farm, and have confidence in how we operate and in what they’re buying. So there’s generally no price premium there for the paperwork
in a face-to-face situation.
- One of the advantages of local food systems is that you can actually get to know the people that produce your food and so don’t have to depend on a government certificate.
GIVING ORGANIC A CHANCE
What we do every day isn’t any different than what our great-great-grandparents did: grow a healthy crop to feed our family and yours. But how we do it has changed dramatically. That’s because we are always using the best tools and information we have to improve the crops we grow and lessen the impact that we have on the environment.
- The crops in these fields are non-GMO.
- Only naturally derived pesticides can be applied to help control bugs, disease and weeds.
- These crops require more labor, tillage (turning over the soil) and different types of fertilizer – making them more expensive
to grow. However …
- Farmers receive a premium for these crops to make up for the higher cost of growing them.