Being a good organic neighbor
If you farm organically and your neighbors don't, get to know them. Share your experiences to find common ground.
The demand for organically-farmed products is outpacing the supply. Many more organic farms are cropping up, sometimes near neighbors who are conventional farmers. Organic growers can find themselves in touchy situations when it comes to spray drift and other issues. But it doesn't have to be that way. Good neighbors work together to benefit each other.
Denise Ryan is the external relations director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation. She says the best way for organic farmers to communicate what they do and why they do it is by sharing personal, first-hand experiences. Ryan knows of an organic farmer in Minnesota who tells the story of his daughter's extreme respiratory illnesses.
"His wife was a nurse, and they just thought about all these different ways to get her healthy, and then they switched to organic farming," she says. "Lo and behold within five-years, all of her symptoms went away and she's a very healthy young lady now. And I think those are the stories that really resonate with any kind of a neighbor."
Share your needs with your neighbors during a friendly dialogue over a cup of coffee. Explain that you are growing for a specialty market, and that there are rules you must follow. That includes protection of your crop from a prohibited spray or fertilizer.
Talk about your experiences. Ryan says you'll probably discover that conventional and organic farmers are more the same than they are different.
"At the end of the day, they are business people," says Ryan. "And if you can share, really nurturing the dialogue and the education, and the exchange of information, when we come up with research or learn about new programs that are creating healthier, higher yields, greater profit, everybody benefits from that."
Radio interview source: Denise Ryan, External Relations Director, Organic Farming Research Foundation
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