The process of organic certification

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 7:00 PM CDT
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MINOT, N.D (KMOT) - The Foundation for Agricultural and Rural Resources Management and Sustainability (FARRMS) hosted its first public field day in Minot.

Kyle Fibelstead, a visitor and gardener from Fargo, said he stopped by to pluck a few tips about organic food.

“It’s good to just be able to grow vegetables for yourself and other people,” said Fibelstead.

Paul Lepp, the owner and operator of Beagle Hill Organic Farm, began working on attaining his organic certification this year. He said after an organic farming business makes more than $5,000 in gross sales a year, they must get certified.

“I’ve always grown organic. It just didn’t make sense for me to grow any other way,” said Lepp.

He said he must record everything, such as seed purchases, and keep the receipts. He said he tracks how long compost has been sitting and its temperature, and he keeps a pest management plan. Felicity Merritt, the program manager for the FARRMS group, said Lepp’s organic certification process may be different from the next farmer.

“If you’re transitioning your farm to organic from more of a conventional system, that’s when you’re going to see a little bit longer of the process because you’re going to have to test and prove that you no longer have those chemical residues left on your farm,” said Merritt.

Lepp said the traditional transition period is three years.

“You have to allow time for the pesticides and herbicides to degrade so that they’re no longer in the food chain,” said Lepp.

Isabella Houser, a former intern on a farm three miles from the Canadian border, said she’s reaping the benefits of field day and she is thinking about taking this route.

“It’s neat hearing his point of view from a professional standpoint of all this biology in the soil,” said Houser.

Lepp said organic certification isn’t all about do’s and don’ts. It’s also about having an integrated system.

The Beagle Hill Organic Farm owner is getting his organic certification through OCIA International.