As an organic farmer at Camas Swale Farm, and as a Product Review Coordinator at the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), spring is a thrilling time of year for me. In the office we are flooded with applications from fertilizer, pest control and other agricultural input manufacturers who wish to have their product reviewed and verified to organic standards, in time for the growing season. On my farm we do our seeding, care for young chicks, and we are in awe and gratitude of the warm and dry season we had this year.
On our farm we tilled a month earlier than last year. This being done, we had energy left to cultivate a new area of the pasture to expand our crop rotation space. We disc a portion of pasture (formerly mowed by sheep) and apply rock dust to the soil to raise the pH. Then we sow a summer cover crop of buckwheat and oats.
Finding a rock dust that is compliant with organic standards can be difficult, because minor ingredients are not always listed on the product labels. Learning how to read between the lines of ingredient lists and nutrient claims, and learning which organic standards apply to input materials, can assist you in ensuring your garden or farm are truly organic. Knowing where to go to find brand name products that are compliant with organics can also be challenging. I appreciate working with OMRI and being a part of the solution as we help farmers answer these questions and find what they need quickly and efficiently.
So what is OMRI? OMRI was formed by organic certifiers back in 1997 to focus exclusively on the products and materials used by farmers. Certifiers look at farming practices and the whole production system during the certification process, while OMRI carefully analyzes input products used to produce food (including each ingredient and manufacturing process) to determine whether they meet the standards for organic use.
At the Mother Earth News Fair, I always enjoy speaking with fellow farmers and gardeners about inputs, organic standards and sound practices in the field. At the OMRI booth, we always provide free OMRI Products Lists of approved input materials, to help you find the right fertilizer or livestock feed additive and keep your farm or garden truly organic.
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