Better than Organic, Chemical Free!
Initially we described our farming practices and produce as “chemical free.” This year, however, we decided to officially align with the Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) organization, which evolved from the old grass roots organic movement. The problem with certified organic is that years ago big agriculture realized there was money to be made selling “organic” products. Predictability changes began to occur in the USDA’s organic crops. How fruits & vegetables from places such as China, Turkey and Mexico are now certified organic stretches the imagination. Simply stated, Certified Naturally Grown requires a far more rigorous, natural cultivation process than Certified Organic.
Organic production is especially challenging in the hot, humid South. The long growing season benefits pests at least as much as it does food crops. The North's long, cold winters kill pests that survive in the Southeast, and the dry heat of the Southwest constrains disease pressure there. Although soil types vary throughout the state, soil fertility and organic-matter content are generally low, due in part to the hot climate, which allows organic matter to be broken down more rapidly than in cooler regions, and intensive commercial agriculture, which has depleted many soil nutrients. Decayed plant and animal matter in the soil helps to hold moisture and nutrients in place and is a key component in organic soil building. The availability of products such as organic pesticides, fertilizers, and feeds has also been limited because of high transportation costs for these products from other parts of the country, thus adding to the difficulties for Georgia farmers trying to adopt these practices.