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Message from the NODPA President

By Liz Bawden, NODPA Board President

Several years ago, I attended a workshop at a conference, and the speaker asked the group of attending organic farmers, “Are you organic by design, or organic by default?” He was referring to the range across the industry, contrasting organic farmers who were committed to improving the health of their soil and animals in their care with farmers that followed the cardinal rules of organic certification and nothing more. In the scope of his talk, he wanted to have each producer examine their own farm practices, along with their goals and mission.

I think about that today while we are finalizing our spring seed orders, and I briefly take a look back over the years. Since then, we have had both good years and challenging ones; we have tried out some new varieties of crops and crop combinations; we have tried out some different crossbreeding and have improved the drainage on some fields. But we still have a long way to go to reach our goals. It feels harder these days to be “organic by design” since it is so easy to be paralyzed by fear of uncertain markets and our shrinking margins. So we proceed a little more carefully toward our goals; after all, baby steps are better than no steps.

I think about how we can sink more carbon into the soil where it belongs. And how we can continue to improve the soil, diversity, and feed quality. It’s a lot to think about, but I guess that is the beauty of farming; every spring is like a “do-over”. The missteps or challenges from the past year are behind us, and the new season is unfolding with possibilities.

I wish you all the best for a safe and rewarding spring season!