Organic or Conventional?

We are frequently asked if we are an Organic farm, well, Nuts About Berries is not a certified Organic farm since the term Organic is legally restricted! The US and increasingly the rest of world requires farmers to obtain special certification from a government designated regulatory authority (e.g. Oregon Tilth, Oregon Dept. of Ag, USDA) to claim that they are an Organic farm. Organic certification requires a substantial fee (annual and percent of sales), time and record keeping to prove that you are following the set of regulations laid down to meet the certification requirements. Organic requires avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. for fertilizer, pesticides) according to a list of National List of Prohibited and Allowed Substances. Frequently there is a misconception that sprays are not applied to Organic produce, that is not necessarily true, there are Organic sprays that can be used in place of conventional sprays, though from what I have heard they are frequently less effective than synthetic sprays and therefore have to applied more often and sometimes the withdrawal (spray application to harvest) time is less than the time for which they are effective. Nuts About Berries uses methods to avoid using conventional or organic sprays, however we can't say that we are a No Spray farm because many farmers market organizations (such as Hillsboro Farmers Markets) prohibit using terms such as "No Spray". Some other terms are problematic too because they have been purchased (trademarked) by an association or corporation. It seems to be all about protecting your turf!

At Nuts About Berries we grow almost all of our own plant starts in soil blocks (no plastic) using our own soil block mix made from our own compost, soil, peat moss and perlite/vermiculite. For soil fertility we primarily use green manures which are winter and summer cover crops grown and turned into the earth to directly feed the soil. For some plantings (such as lettuce beds) we further amend the soil with a commercial bagged compost. While we direct seed some crops, whenever possible, we use plant starts to get a jump on weeds and to allow more time for the cover crops to grow. We purchase our seeds from Johnnys Selected Seeds, Territorial Seed, Seed Savers Exchange, Victory Seed and Adaptive Seed. We avoid treated seed except for sometimes using naturally treated seed for sweet corn. Absolutely no GMO seed. We use row covers on many crops both for season extension and also to provide a physical barrier to certain pests such as flea beetles and aphids. Some pests such as slugs are picked off and disposed of and other pests we just live with. If we lose a crop, because of pest damage, it is not a big deal, the sheep and goats do not fuss over such damage and absolutely love any and all brassicas especially kale. We are not certified anything, however our farm is always open to farm visits and that is the best way to determine farm practices, visit the farm, talk to the farmer.