As most of you know, our business name is Live Local Organic. However, until we are officially certified, we must market ourselves simply as “Live Local.”
This post is a short bit about our process of becoming certified as an Aquaponics farm. What does it take to become certified, you might ask? Well, first you have to grow your hair out at to at least 1 foot long, wear Birkenstocks, and eat lots of granola! (Just joking, although that sure wouldn’t hurt)
In reality, becoming certified organic is so much more than a “health” movement. It’s about transparency and authenticity. It’s a way for a business to let customers know that they are not putting harmful things on their plants.
I’m going to get real for a second. I learned something really scary when I got into farming, because one of the first things I did before selling in our first store was call the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
“Hello! I’m about to start selling basil in a grocery store and wanted to know how I should go about getting inspected and what permits I should get!” I said.
“Well, are you processing any food, chopping it up, or changing it at all before you sell it?” They asked.
“No, just pulling it out of the ground and selling it!” I replied.
“Oh, well then you’re fine, you don’t need to do anything.” They said.
I was shocked. For all people knew, I could be dumping grass fertilizer into the ground and selling it to my customers and nobody would know!
The good thing is that New Seasons Market is a stellar grocery store and they came out and inspected my operation themselves before I was in all of their stores.
But that’s just because New Seasons is a great store. This isn’t a requirement for grocery stores, and a some stores don’t do this!
Now don’t get me wrong, every small uncertified farmer I’ve ever met has practiced good growing methods, and most don’t get certified because it just isn’t feasible for a small farmer. But what about the other guys? The big guys? One can only hope regulations are in place to make sure they’re selling healthy crops.
All that is to say that being certified organic is a way to let people know that an independent party is looking over your shoulder making sure you’re doing the right things, and that’s pretty cool.
So, how do you become certified as an Aquaponics farm? It’s pretty easy, here are the steps.
1. Call a certifying agency. They will give you the rules you need to follow in order to be certified.
2. Make sure you are using approved materials. Call the agency if you have questions. (Just because it isn’t usda or omri certified doesn’t mean it isn’t allowed. Check with your agency and they can do an ingredients analysis themselves to see if a material is approved)
3. Fill out the paperwork. This was the hardest part for me because I don’t like paperwork. In reality, it was easy to do and very straightforward.
4. Get inspected. To make sure you’re doing everything you say you’re doing.
5. Receive your official certification and put it on your label! It can also be a good idea to put your certifying agency on your label too. (We used Oregon Tilth and I highly recommend them)
Now, if you have trouble finding approved materials, send me an email and I can point you in the right direction by letting you know what we used.
As always, remember to Live Local and support local business!
P.S. I put some product pictures below, just because it looks so dang good!