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What organic farming really means

By Tessa Edick, for Columbia-Greene Media

When did food become “organic” food?

Hawthorne Valley Farm via animalwelfareapproved.org

Hawthorne Valley Farm via animalwelfareapproved.org

It’s time to start looking at companies selling food that aren’t holding themselves to a higher standard of best practice, transparency and quality and commit to buying your food from farms that are proud to produce nutrient dense food for you to eat. Reconnect your children to resilient agriculture and better health to create strong rural to urban marketplaces in our communities.

In this country within the next 10 to 20 years, the majority of our American farmers (average age 58) will age out of their profession and millions of acres of farmland will change hands and need new farmers. Who is going to feed us?

Of course food is personal — both a choice and a lifestyle — but the reward for practicing consumption of organically grown (not only labeled) food from the farm made by people you can trust to implement best practice for production is a gift from the food gods — otherwise known as farmers.

Take a wonderful journey into the land of biodynamic organic food, sustainable practice and preservation of food justice — our human right to eat fresh local food and be well at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent.

“Good, healthy food cannot be a privilege; it has to become a basic human right,” said Steffen Schneider, director of farm operations at HVF.

Food from Hawthorne Valley Farm is exclusively GMO free, biodynamic, organic, pasture raised and as luck would have it — affordable.

People are just learning what these practices mean and that just stating it on the package is worth investigation. “It’s not obvious in peoples’ minds that organic is supposed to mean GMO-free — it’s becoming another buzz word,” explained farm marketer Lauren Wolff.

The signage at Hawthorne Valley Farm reads clearly, “our produce is bio-dynamic and organic” and what does that mean?

I read on, “Biodynamic farmers will strive to ‘root the farm in the whole household of nature’ and will include the conscious practice of working with the rhythmical influences of the ‘cosmos’ and strictly avoid synthetic inputs (fertilizers, pesticides and hormones) on a biodynamic farm.”

As a biodynamic farm, it also means that the amount of land determines the number of cows that can be fed grazing. In this case 400 acres allows a herd of 60 Brown Swiss dairy cows to supply organic milk to the HVF farmstead creamery.

It’s all about best practice really — transparency and quality — to ensure your food is packed with nutrition from land that is respected, water that is clean, animals that are well cared for, comfortable and happy to create a marketplace that brings education and economic development to the community.

Why doesn’t every package of food you eat say that?

This working farm also includes 10 acres of vegetables that support a 300-member CSA and a two-acre Corner Garden, which provides produce for the farm store open year round. Twenty pigs eat the “waste” whey from the creamery and 40 chickens provide eggs for the learning programs on the farm. “When a 3-year-old is nose to nose with a baby pig — it’s so funny and personable — it’s a way to trust food and sustainable practices,” Director of Marketing Karen Preuss said.

So this 400-acre farm and farmstead creamery work within the limits of the biodynamic scale with a ration of land available with nutrient dense pasture/grass to graze for the feeding of these 60 lovable and child-friendly Brown Swiss milking cows that produce milk used for production in the creamery and sold in many varieties including as raw milk.

Raw milk is an unpasturized nutrient rich dairy product that is both coveted and feared because the industry has taught us that milk should last a long time in your fridge and pasteurization is mandatory — unless bought directly on the farm.

Read the full story via What organic farming really means – Columbia-Greene Media: Meet Your Farmer.

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