Organics: Where Do I Start?
Posted July 31, 2017 by Dani Kusner
Did you know The Andersons now offers organic transition consulting services?
Our Organic Agronomy Advisor, Danielle “Dani” Kusner, is ready to help you successfully transition to organic agriculture. In this post, Danielle elaborates on our transition consulting services.
Where Do I Start?
I often hear this question from farmers who have been thinking about organics for awhile but struggle to figure out the next step. The good news? We have a simple next step.
START A CONVERSATION.
A piece of wisdom I once learned from a wine grape farmer is that the only step that truly matters is the next step. Not the fifth, tenth, or fiftieth step down the road; just the very next step.
One simple next step is to have a conversation with me. My primary focus is to help farmers make the transition to organic farm management under the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP). This includes education about the rules of the NOP, assistance filling out certification paperwork, connections to organic networking groups in your region, and agronomy advice for soil and nutrient management.
For farm management questions, I like to start with a soil sample. It is often our best conversation starter because it will provide the baseline for your farm to transition, and in the process of understanding nutrient availability in your soil, several other questions will arise about soil biology, crop rotations, tillage, and weed management, to name just a few!
DEVELOP A STRONG TEAM.
I always recommend that new organic farmers partner with a neighbor or mentor, and if this does not exist within your community, I can be your resource. I am a CCA who has 8 years of experience in biological soil systems and nutrition farming. My training did not come from a traditional agriculture degree; instead, I learned in the field, walking alongside grain, fruit, and vegetable farmers in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, California, Tennessee, and Ontario. The sustainable or biological farming expertise that serves as the basis for organic farming lives in the shared knowledge of farmers and researchers who are studying it on their farms – this is the base that I tap for my practice.
You should know that my goal is not to replace anyone on your current team. I’m offering to join your team if you would like an organic perspective. Some of the most enlightening meetings I’ve had have been when a farmer, agronomist, co-op or dealer, and grain buyer are all sitting at the same table. This way all the important players on your team are connected, allowing you to develop a sound plan for organic crops.
TAKE THE NEXT STEP.
People still wonder, well how will this work – transition consulting? The answer is, it’s up to you. After an initial phone call to gauge your interest and make introductions, we’ll agree on an hourly rate for future services. Some farmers utilize my expertise for a one to two hour meeting or phone-call, which could include reviewing a soil sample or sharing advice about choosing an organic certifier. For farmers who want more hands-on assistance, I can help fill out organic paperwork, or serve as a regular touch-point throughout your transition. We can work these details out after our first meeting.