The term organic means different things to different people. The industry standards have been diluted over the years as big business has entered this space...
Perhaps at least some of the big companies in the organic market are driven more by the search for your money and less by ethics and genuine concern over the degradation of our farmland soils.
What we mean by 'organic' might be better described as natural, and as farmers our job is to help, support and encourage nature... but never to supplant it.
So this means that we will use no artificial chemicals in the production of our food. We will use natural means to maintain and improve soil fertility. This will include using a variety of home made composts, and spraying with home made compost tees that are bursting with the natural bacteria and protozoa that plants need to interact naturally with the soil.
We will not use heavy machinery that would compact the soil and therefore require heavy machinery to un-compact it later. We will use minimum tillage... so no plough or rotovators to disturb and disrupt the life and processes going on in the soil... in order to limit the release of stored carbon into the atmosphere and soil loss by wind and rain. We will keep bare or unused soil protected with cover crops or artificial materials for the same reasons and allow beds to rest and recover on a regular basis.
We will save seed to allow plants time to adapt naturally over generations to the local environment and develop landrace strains and varieties. We won't be able to do everything at once, but we also aim to create a diverse eco-system on the farm to include animals, bees, woodland and wildlife habitats.
We have no plans to gain organic certification but would like to become Bio-dynamically certified if we can meet the requirements on such a small plot of land and if the costs are not prohibitive. But whether we do or we don't, we will continue to farm in a way that is compatible with our ethics and with nature.
Hand-scale bio-intensive farming
This Bio-intensive method of farming is seeing a resurgence all over the world...
It was developed by small french co-operative farmers in the 50s and 60s before the rise of industrial farming and financialisation. Small farms were gradually amalgamated into fewer, larger mechanised farms with far fewer people working in agriculture. This has happened all over the western world.
In today's world, this old model is looking more and more attractive because of the rising costs of chemical inputs, energy and machinery and the fact that good quality organic food will command a premium price. Many consider the financial world to be uncertain at the moment and this small scale model may well prove to be very resilient to all sorts of crises.
Elliot Coleman was one of the leaders in the resurgence of hand-scale bio-intensive organic growing, which is now gaining momentum all over the world. Other famous growers such as JM Fortier and Curtis Stone have further developed these methods, and in a slightly different style Charles Dowding in Shepton Mallet has also been an evangelist, particularly for no-dig, organic, bio-intensive gardening.
In short, this method of growing offers some distinct advantages and productivity gains over the industrial model. It also produces nutrient-dense, natural food that is good for our health, in a way that's good for our planet.