Organic gardening for commercial use.
Since 2004, GardenSoxx® has been providing innovative and effective solutions to improve agricultural practices in the US. Our GardenSoxx solution is an advancement in small and large scale growing that provides the grower with the flexibility to grow indoors or outdoors, herbs or fruits or vegetables, and conventional or organic.
Going organic can seem overwhelming but we are here to help. Below are common questions on the process of converting a conventional growing operation to an organic one, and how it applies to using GardenSoxx.
What does it mean to be organic?
The term "organic" is a confusing topic in Agriculture today. When home gardeners use the term organic, it usually means they grow without the use of synthetic fertilizers and chemical pest control agents. In a broad sense, that is also the basic meaning of organic with regard to commercial crop production, but there is much more that must be considered.
In organic production, GardenSoxx use a homogenous, organic compost media contained in a UV stabilized polypropylene mesh tube. In this way, its use is identical to growing in potted production, but the results are far superior. GardenSoxx offer the flexibility to be used in field production on top of a geotextile barrier that creates a separation between the plant, media, and root from contaminated soil, allowing farmers to transition easier and quicker from conventional to organic.
When something at a grocery store labeled “USDA Organic” what does that mean?
In the US, products sold as “organic” are certified as having been grown, harvested and processed in accordance with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. The NOP regulations went into effect nationwide in 2002. Products that meet the requirements of the regulations may carry the “USDA Certified Organic” label.
How are organic products “certified”?
Products are eligible for certification when the farm on which they are produced has been inspected and approved by an independent third-party certifier accredited by the NOP. Currently, any farm that sells more than $5000 worth of organic products per year is required to be inspected. Farms must be inspected annually to maintain their certified status.
What is the process and cost to become organic certified?
Each third-party certifier has its own process to complete the certification inspection. Usually, a farmer that wants to be certified starts by requesting an application package from the certifier of his or her choice. All certifiers charge for certification inspections, which is the primary “non-input” cost involved in becoming certified. Currently, this cost averages about $600 per year.
Certifiers are independent, third party entities accredited by USDA-NOP to do farm inspections. There are about 100 of these organizations operating nationally. It is the farmer’s choice as to which certifying organization they wish to utilize. If you are unsure of which certifier is the best choice for your farm, we can help you make a selection.
Are there a lot of requirements and records that have to be kept?
Yes, there are record keeping requirements. A farmer must be able to demonstrate that the cultural methods and inputs used to produce a crop meet the requirements of the NOP regulations. This means things such as keeping product labels and specification sheets, being able to demonstrate that prohibited substances or practices are NOT used, and that you are using agricultural practices consistent with the regulations. A significant part of the certification inspection is an audit of your records, so it is important to keep them in order.
How does "instant" certification work by using GardenSoxx?
When crops are grown in soil, a farm must go through a three year “transition” period to be sure that residues of prohibited chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc.) are no longer present in the soil. GardenSoxx is different because it uses an approved, compost-based, soil-less growing media contained within a modular container system. This system, when used in such a manner that there is no plant contact with soil (such as growing within a high tunnel, on weed barrier, plastic, or landscape cloth), are exempt from the three year requirement because there is no soil contact in the production system.
Does a landscape cloth have to be used if growing in an open field situation?
Generally we recommend it, and most certifiers will expect it. In essence, the landscape cloth or plastic is a ‘hard surface’ that isolates the GardenSoxx from the soil. A secondary, although vitally important function of the barrier is to control weeds that otherwise might emerge from the soil and invade GardenSoxx.
What are the expectations of becoming "USDA Organic"?
Many of the certifying organizations publish guides that will help with the groundwork necessary to transition a farm from conventional to organic production. We also offer a fee-based consulting service that will guide you through the certification process using GardenSoxx.
Helpful guides for going organic:
- USDA - Organic Agriculture
- National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service
- Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
Is it worth it?
While we cannot guarantee the profitability of becoming a "USDA Organic" production, it is the fastest growing segment of the fruit and vegetable market, and good growers generally have no problem selling their crops at a price that can be anywhere from 25-75% higher than an equivalent conventionally grown crop. GardenSoxx eliminate a lot of the issues of certification.
If you have any questions specific to GardenSoxx, please contact us directly.