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An Overview of Organic Farming

Organic farming is a philosophy rather than just a method of working the land. The method emphasizes working in partnership with nature rather than trying to battle against it. The focus is on working with nature in a way that is beneficial to the earth, the produce, the producers and the consumers. No party is exclusively benefited at the expense of another.


By using organic methods the producer can use his land in a way that is sustainable over many years. Non-organic farmers may use methods that are very intensive. They can produce a strong crop but in a way that cannot be sustained by the land. This results in the breakdown of the production ability of the land in just a few seasons. The land can then only be re-vitalized by resting it or adding larger and larger quantities of artificial and sometimes harmful chemicals. Organic farmers use methods such as crop rotation to ensure the land is not used to exhaustion. They make use of natural fertilisers such as manure and compost to enrich the land and natural pest management techniques to protect their crops.

This is one of the key differences between sustainable and non-sustainable farming methods.


The land benefits from the employment of these non-intensive ‘gentle' farming methods. The land beyond the farm and the water courses that flow from and underneath the land are not polluted, the ecosystem is not harmed and natural habitats are maintained.


Organic farming methods are undoubtedly good for the land and the environment, but what about the producers? How are they affected by these methods?

For producers adopting organic methods there is a compromise to be made. On one hand organic methods are more labour intensive requiring more time and effort to be spent working the land. Without the dubious benefits of numerous chemicals, the land needs to worked manually and often and time must be spent to utilise the land in an intelligent manner.


However this harder work is outweighed by the fact that organic produce often commands a higher price on the market and under some circumstances can result in a yield that is higher than that of conventional farming methods. Due to the higher labour needs organic farming is beneficial to the local economy by providing jobs to local area. Organic farming methods favour smaller farms, often self-owned. This is of great advantage to the farmer when gigantic multi-national companies seem to be taking over all the available agricultural land. Yet another advantage for the organic farmer is the method is less capital intensive. Without having to purchase heavy soil turning equipment or chemicals to fertilise the soil or pesticides to protect the crops investment costs can be reduced. Farm-workers also benefit from not having to handle the large quantities of chemicals required for conventional farming.


We have shown that the earth and the producer benefits from organic farming methods. The benefits are also applied to the produce. Without the affects of the chemical onslaught the produce grown is naturally stronger and resistant to pests. They are grown in a manner that increases natural taste and colour and the resultant crop has been shown to be nutritionally superior to conventionally grown produce.


As for the consumer, they often have to pay a higher price for their food, but this is offset by the knowledge that the produce is better for them, better for the produce, better for the producer and better for the earth. Isn't that a price worth paying?

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