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2021 Virtual Farm Tour Day 1: Organic Farming, CSAs and more!

2021 Virtual Farm Tour Video: Day 1

2021 Virtual Farm Tour Day 1: Big Daddy’s Farm

In growing plants, farmers face many challenges on the farm. Plants need a certain amount of water and nutrients to grow and every plant species is different. A farmer has to be aware of these needs.  Depending on the field and the weather, they will need to fertilize and irrigate their plants throughout the growing season. On top of that, farmers have to worry about pests, pathogens and weeds that can harm their plants. Simply put, there is a lot that can go wrong when growing plants! Similarly, there are a lot of different approaches to addressing issues on a farm. One way of how to approach this is through organic management strategies.

What is the difference between organic and conventional farming?

In 2002, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), released the National Organic Program (NOP) Standards which defined organic farming. According to the USDA, organic refers to the process of food production. In organic production, farmers “integrate cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used” (USDA 2011).

Farmers can become USDA certified organic. This allows them to sell their products as organic produce. To do that, they have to meet quite a few requirements. Based on the NOP standards, farmers cannot use synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, though there are some exceptions. This doesn’t mean that organic farmers do not use any pesticides or fertilizers. It simply means that the do not use synthetic ones. Synthetic is anything that is man-made such as those produced in a laboratory. Instead, farmers use naturally derived chemicals, specifically labeled for use in organic farming.

Let’s take a look at two commonly used chemicals to understand better. Pyrethrum and pyrethroids are two chemicals used to control insect pests. They are very similar compounds. Pyrethrum has been used to control insects for nearly 2,000 years. It is still used in organic production today. Pyrethrum contains highly toxic compounds called pyrethrins. They extract pyrethrins from the flower Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium and use it for pest control. Several pesticides containing pyrethrins are labeled for use in organic farming. On the other hand, pyrethroids were man-made insecticides. They were based off the pyrethrins found in nature. Scientists took pyrethrins and modified the structure to make it longer lasting and more effective at controlling pests. Pyrethroids are not labeled for use in organic farming. However, both natural pyrethrins and synthetic pyrethroids are compounds that can kill insects.

What is a CSA?

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA is a community of individuals that pledge to support a farm. CSA members often make this pledge by contributing up-front to the farming operation. This might be by pledging money. Alternatively, a pledge may require members commit to special work days on the farm. There are also other forms of pledges for CSAs. It really depends on specific operation. In return for their pledge, the farmer tries to provide the CSA members with a portion of the crop harvest. If there was a crop failure or a bad growing season, the CSA members might have limited returns, but so will the farmer. The idea is to “share the risk” of farming between the farmer and CSA members.

This is one marketing strategy that a farm might use where produce goes directly to the consumer. Getting involved with a CSA is a great way to support local agriculture. By pledging to a local CSA, you are investing in locally owned businesses. This can also give you access to fresh produce! Better yet, a CSA provides an excellent opportunity to learn more about where your food was grown.

2021 Virtual Farm Tour and Video Scavenger Hunt

Hidden in each of our 2021 Virtual Farm Tour videos is a keyword. If you collect at least 4 out of the 6 keywords, you could have a chance to win some cool stuff! After watching the videos and collecting the keywords, fill out this quick survey. We have 3 baskets full of local Florida goodies, 10 compost bins and 10 at-home hydroponics kits to give away to randomly selected survey participants. For more information and links to all six 2021 Virtual Farm Tour videos, visit this 2021 Virtual Farm Tour blog.

 

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