It’s not quite Fall on the calendar, yet the orchard season has most decidedly shifted - from all that luscious stone fruit to the satisfying weight and heft of heirloom pears and apples as well as luscious figs.
Indian Blood Peaches & Figs Too - This Friday at the Farm!
This is the first week, but also the last week, and really the only week, I will have Indian Blood Peaches for sale at the farm stand. Ok, yes, it is the worst name ever for a fruit variety, but they are truly one of the most amazing fruits I grow. The are included in the Slow Food Foundation’s Ark of Taste who explain the origin of this name as follows:⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
"The Indian Blood Peach is an Old World fruit that was brought to Mexico by the Spanish in the 1500s. Over the course of a century, the fruit spread up into the southeastern United States and was grown by native tribes such as the Cherokees and the Creeks. European explorers arriving later were astonished to find this Old World fruit growing in the New World. The Indian Blood Peach was grown by famous Americans such as Thomas Jefferson at his home, Monticello, and is one of the 38 types of peaches that still grow there today."
The figs just started ripening up last week, woohoo! I have a mix of delicious figs for sale at the farm stand too: Pastilliere, Osborne Prolific, Violette de Bourdeaux, Flanders, and Purple Smyrna are in the mix this week.
Organic Certification: Should I stay or should I go now?
I have really been wrestling with whether I want to continue with the organic certification process. Although I completely embrace sustainable and regenerative farming and always will, the bureaucracy of the certification process has really been grinding me down. The paperwork seems endless and onerous, even more so for an extremely diverse yet tiny farm.
Having been certified for 5 years now, I think the National Organic Program standards are sadly a low bar, and at the same time, the only well recognized standard for “marginally better than conventional” farming in this country. So, I want to support that, for we don’t have much else to nudge agriculture into better practices. And yet, little in the NOP standards promotes so many agricultural, environmental and ethical practices I believe in, such as small scale farming, biodiversity, animal welfare, wild space restoration, and fair farm labor practices.
Now, there are other standards and certifications that I feel are trying to a better job in some areas. The Biodynamic Certification has aspects to it I really admire, especially requiring 10% of a farm be left to the wild things. The fairly recent Regenerative Organic Certification includes standards for soil health, animal welfare and farm worker fairness - pretty great!
In my dream farm life, where I have an endless clone army of industrious mini mes, I would get USDA organic certification AND biodynamic certification AND the regenerative organic certification, with a little permaculture food forest thrown in there for extra credit. But all of these certifications seem to be optimized for large farms where there is dedicated staff for record keeping and certification management. Birdsong Orchards is just me with a little help from my friends.
What I am considering instead is this. I would like to be radically transparent about how I farm. I want to publish my input records and schedule for anyone to read: all the manure, wood chips, neem oil, sulfur sprays, compost teas, predator insects, sticky traps, organic fertilizers I use. More importantly I want to explain the WHY, why do I do these things, and when and what are the consequences for the health of my trees, but also the fruit, the soil, the environment around the trees, and ultimately the bodies of my customers. I want to perhaps spread a little of the knowledge I have gathered about sustainable farming, and at the same time, open my ears and inboxes to learnings from others.
So friends, I have a favor to ask. Please tell me what you think! Should I continue with organic certification? Is it important to you? I really want to know the opinions of my friends and customers before I make any final decisions. Write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org Thank you so much.