So you think you have what it takes to be an organic produce farmer? Here is a lighter look at what you need to know, be and do.
So let's start with explaining what organic produce is:
Simply stated, organic produce and other ingredients are grown without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionizing radiation.
If you can't pronounce most of these words, or need a dictionary, you may want to revisit your decision to be an organic farmer.
What does an organic produce farmer do?
Organic farmers raise crops using natural pest control and fertilizers as well as other sustainable techniques, such as composting. This profession requires an intimate knowledge of the land and the life cycles of plants and insects. To prepare for an organic farming career, a potential farmer must become acquainted with working outside. If you do not like working outdoors, 7 days a week or all year round then you may want to reconsider your decision. However, if you are looking to lose some weight and tone up, then you will be happy to know that this work can be physically demanding. but due to the growing popularity of organic goods, organic agriculture is actually on the rise.
So you decided this is the life that you want, so what's next?
Step 1: Get Experience
Organic farmers need to have an intimate knowledge of the land and soil they work with. It is important for potential farmers to become familiar with farming processes and get accustomed to working outside. Experience in weeding, tilling, planting and harvesting are just some of the skills a farmer must be proficient in.
Aspiring farmers should obtain employment with farms, nurseries, landscaping companies or many other businesses that rely on working the land.
Step 2: Consider the School
Although you do not need a formal education earning a college degree or some post-secondary education won't hurt you. Many colleges and universities have created organic agriculture degree programs to cultivate this niche sector of farming. The serious student may consider pursuing an associate's or bachelor's degree in organic agriculture to learn about food science, economics, farm marketing, crop production, and soil management.
Step 3: Get The Paperwork
Now if you are only looking to farm as a hobby, then you don't need to read any further. If you want to build a business then you will need to get certified. Farmers who are not certified cannot label their foods as organic. The USDA provides an organic certification standard that is adopted by state government agencies and private businesses for certifying farmers.
Once the farmer has chosen a certifying agency, they'll need to submit an application. The application includes detailed information about the specific farming practices and waste management procedures of the individual farm. Once the application is complete, someone will be assigned to complete an on-site inspection to ensure that the farm is legitimate.
Step 4: Learn How to Market
Organic farmers who own or lease their own land can expand their business by increasing the marketing of their goods or finding a popular niche market. Creating business relationships with local restaurants and small grocers is a great way to get your product out there.
Step 5: The Plug
Make sure you have the proper refrigeration equipment to keep your produce fresh and fresh longer! Whether you want to grow organic produce as a hobby or as a business, we have the equipment you need! Call us at 252-661-2700 and we will be happy to discuss your walk in cooler, ice, or any other refrigeration