Okra, tomatoes, broccoli, and basil, are just some of the fresh items you’ll find at Mile Creek Farm in New Lebanon.
Emily Jackle and her husband Ben started turning land in Montgomery County into an organic farm in 2007. It took three years to get the USDA to approve it because they had to document a three-year history with the land.
Jackle told 2 NEWS it’s worth the extra work to be able to use the USDA seal and it’s a good way for consumers to know they are getting produce that was not genetically modified or sprayed with chemicals.
“Looking for the certification is my biggest piece of advice, like I said, we think it’s the gold standard. We don’t feel it’s burdensome to us. We are a really small farm and we find time to do the certification,” said Jackle.
The Jackles grow flowers and vegetables. They start packing the greenhouse in March, then when it’s warm enough they move plants into the hoop house. It all starts with non-treated seeds and homemade potting mix.
Jackle told 2 NEWS, “We had a surprise visit from our certifier who came and took soil samples from our tomato crop and he was looking for pesticides.
Their certifier is the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association which the USDA says checks organic farms at least once a year.
“It would be illegal for us to have the certified organic if we weren’t certified, but we are, so we’re allowed to display this on our farm stand at market,” she explained as she showed 2 NEWS the banner she uses at farmers’ markets.
The USDA reports those who label their produce “organic” and are not certified can be fined. You can actually file a complaint, if you suspect someone. The USDA does make exceptions for people who make less than $5,000 a year from their produce.
You can also check on the status of a farm that claims to be organic by using the website http://apps.ams.usda.gov/nop/. You can put the farm’s name under “operation name.”
Jackle suggests you talk with the actual farmers and pick their brains, have them explain why they consider their products organic.