> Are there organic farmers out there who were not always organic? What
> was it that led you to switch?
We bought our orchard three seasons ago and grew our fruit conventionally
that first year. Being inexperienced in apple production I did as other
apple gowers in the area did and applied the fungicides and insecticides.
That year the farm recorded the biggest crop ever experienced. But
conventional practices did not sit well with me. What prompted me to
change? First, safety for my family - far too many unknowns - we
practically live in our orchard. Second, natural farming (whatever that
means) not using synthetics, felt right. Third - and this came after the
fact - the biodiversity that now exists in our orchard is remarkable - we
have tree frogs in great abundance, live broods of various types of birds,
an abundance of natural predators and an overall healthy ecosystem, none of
which existed prior to our conversion. Fourth we wanted to provide
healthful and natural food for those who wanted organic apples and
appreciated the difference. Did profit or economics play a role? Sure it
did - we purposefully wanted to make less money. Kidding! I can honestly
say that I would be making more money growing apples conventionally than I
am currently. We lost many of our clients when we converted to organic
practices. Why? Cuz not all our apples were pristine or without some
damage. So we changed our marketing strategy we still operate a pick your
own but we also wholesale our apples at higher prices than those that are
conventionally grown. Why? Becuz our apples must meet apple marketing
standards i.e. "extra fancy" which would represent 60% or less (and less is
more often the norm) of our crop compared to close to 100% for
conventionally grown apples.
Anita you asked "if you were sent out to promote organic agriculture, what
areas or types of farms and farmers would YOU target?"
I don't think that I would target anyone. Converting to organic farming is
like quiting smoking and those of you who have will know what I'm talking
about. When you are ready, you will do it - if you are not inclined to
make the change, you won't. Under no circumstances would I target a farmer
to convert to organic practices at least not in an intrusive fashion. I
believe that change comes first from curiosity. People will notice you do
things "differently" and inquire. The more inquisitive they become the
more information you give but not in a preachy style and definitely not in
a "my way is better than yours" fashion. Ghandi established a following on
the basis of natural inquisitiveness. It may be a slow process but it does
work. If you use a more invasive approach you will likely fail.
Good luck Anita!
Log Cabin Orchard
> From: Anita Graf (Staff) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: Ernie.Marx@orst.edu
> Cc: email@example.com
> Subject: RE: on going organic
> Date: Monday, February 22, 1999 3:57 AM
> Ernie Marx wrote:
> >At the risk of appearing cynical, a primary reason (not the only
> >reason, but a primary reason) farms switch to organic is
> >economic....organic products sell for considerably higher prices and
> >can result in greater profits. Get rid of the price differentia
> Thank you for your comment. It may be that farmers are switching for
> less than idealistic reasons, but there must be more to it than that.
> If it were clearly the more profitable option for everyone, we would
> presumably see mass switching. Since that isnt' the case, there must
> be certain farm or farmer attributes that make switchers more
> amenable to switching. One thought I have had is that maybe those
> farmers who have not invested so much in capital inputs and can
> therefore withstand the (at least initial) drop in productivity and
> income. Maybe those who are already well versed in the various
> sustainable practices find it less of a stretch than those who do not
> practice as many sustainable practices. Perhaps smaller farms find
> it easier to switch. I don't know, that's why I asked the question.
> Regarding your comment, I have another question. Clearly we pay more
> for organic in the store, but what is the premium that actually gets
> to the farmers? Any organic farmers out there who can comment?
> Anita Graf
> 313-F Conner Hall
> Dept. of Agricultural and Applied Economics
> University of Georgia
> Athens, GA 30602-7509
> (706) 542-1915 phone
> (706) 542-0739 fax
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