Organic Vegetable Production
Organic vegetable farming is a production system that relies on biological processes and natural materials to manage soil fertility and pest populations and to promote healthy crop growth. With the recent implementation of the federal Organic Foods Production Act, the use of the term 'organic' to describe a food or feed crop in the marketplace is regulated. Vegetables sold as 'organic' must be grown and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program (NOP) Standards and any applicable state regulations. The Standards prohibit the use of most synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) and all gmo's, and require the farmer to write and follow an organic production plan and keep farm and field records. Fields used to grow organic crops may not have had any prohibited material applied to them in the previous 3 years. Operations with more than $5000 gross annual income from sales of products labeled 'organic' must have their production and handling methods inspected and certified by a USDA-accredited organic certification agent.
Growers interested in transitioning to organic production are advised to educate themselves about practices used in their area and plan carefully. Experience suggests that it can take a number of years for pest populations and soil nutrient cycles to adjust enough for successful organic production. Selected on-line resources are listed below. Educational programs on organic production are offered annually at the Indiana Horticultural Congress and also in nearby states; watch for notices on Web sites and in newsletters and trade publications.
If produce will be marketed as 'organic' it is especially important to choose inputs carefully to make sure that they are not prohibited by the NOP. A list of synthetic materials allowed and natural materials prohibited for use in organic production, called the National List, is included in the Standards and is available from the NOP Web site. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is also helpful when evaluating inputs. OMRI is a private organization that reviews commercially available products to determine whether they are allowed, restricted, or prohibited according to the NOP. Results of the reviews are available on the OMRI Web site.
If organic certification is desired, it is advisable to make contact with a certification agent during the period of transition to organic production. The organizations listed below represent several that were accredited by USDA as of October 2002 and are known to certify Indiana operations. Contact them directly for information about fees and the certification procedure. For a complete list of accredited agents, see the NOP Web site.
Many production practices are used by organic and non-organic producers alike. Information presented elsewhere on this site is not duplicated on this page, so check out other pages for additional information on vegetable production.
eXtension Organic Production
(Web site) - eXtension is the national site for research-based information from land-grant
Purdue New Agriculture Network
(Purdue, Michigan State, Univ. of Illinois) (Web site) - Farmers, researchers and educators teaming up for sustainable and organic ag solutions in the Great Lakes region. Online newsletter, discussion email list, introductory Fact Sheets about organic agriculture.
Purdue Organic Video Series, 2005 - 2007
(Purdue, Univ. of Illinois, Ohio State Univ., Michigan State Univ.) – Intro. To Organic Marketing, Beginning Organic Farming, Intro. To Markets and Certification, Insect and Disease Mgmt. for Organic Vegetables, Organic Weed Mgmt., Cover Crops and Fertility.
Organic Ag Info
(Organic Ag Consortium)
(Web site) - Searchable database of outreach and research publications and Web sites.
Nat'l Ag Libary/AFSIC Organic Agriculture Information Access (Alternative Farming Systems Information Center, National Ag Library) - Electronic collection of pre-1942 USDA publications related to organic agriculture.
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