Growing Practices

Growing practices are important for healthy food and a healthy planet; they can also be confusing. Different terms are used. Some are regulated, and some are not. Asking questions and developing a relationship with the grower and/or the market coordinator can help in understanding them. We support sustainable food production and realize understanding and practice continue to grow with education.

Note: abbreviations are used in the printed guide to indicate the growing practices of the Farms.

(B) Biodynamic: A unified approach to agriculture which tends the soil and the farm as living organisms, considers animals an integral part of a living ecosystem, and strives to bring community into farming. There is a certification process in order to use the biodynamic label.

(C) Conventional: How most farms have operated over the past 50-plus years. Commercial fertilizers and synthetic chemicals are probably used.

(CNG) Certified Naturally Grown: A grassroots, affordable certification program for farmers who sell locally and directly to customers. Its standards are based on the National Organic Program but uses peer to peer inspection instead.

(CRCC) Crop Rotation, Use of Cover Crop: Help hold the soil, renewed fertility, and reduce pests.

(FSC) Forest Stewardship Council: Practices that respect natural habitats by restricting the conversion of new forestland; prohibiting illegal harvesting, the use of hazardous pesticides or genetically modified trees; and supporting fair labor policies.

(IPM) Integrated Pest Management: Matches information with available pest-control methods to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage while using the most economical means and causing the least
possible hazard to people, property, and the environment.

(LS) Low-Spray: Chemicals are used sparingly.

(O) Certified Organic: The operation is certified by an United States Department of Agriculture accredited agency by a neutral third party professional inspector to meet national standards for raising produce or livestock in a way that does not harm the environment with synthetically derived inputs and that preserves or improves soil fertility, soil structure, and farm sustainability. Some people consider this the minimum for insuring sustainable growing practices.

(P) Permaculture: a design system for creating sustainable human environments which, for food production, begins with soil building and focuses on perennials.

(PF) Pesticide Free: No use of pesticides on seeds and plants throughout the crop lifecycle.

(SA) Soil Amendments, Such as Use of Compost and Non-synthetic Fertilizers: Build soil fertility.

(T) Transitional: Moving to organic.

Animals and Their Treatment:

(FR) Free Range: At a minimum, animals have access to an outside area.

(GF) Grass Fed: Animals are mainly raised on pasture instead of being confined in feedlots and fed grain.Grass-finished animals are raised entirely on pasture and are fed stored hay and grass over the winter.

(HB) Heritage Breeds: Traditional breeds raised by farmers before industrial agriculture drastically reduced breed variety.

(HF) Hormone Free: Growth hormones are not used to force an animal to gain weight, increasing incidences of disease and leading to the routine prescription of antibiotics. (Hormones are not permitted in chicken production.)

(HR) Humanely Raised: Animal stress is limited through sufficient space, shelter, and gentle handling.

(NR) Naturally Raised: Animals cannot be given antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products.