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If you plan to grow for resale, you should qualify your farm as "Sustainable"

Do You Qualify as Sustainable?

"There is a lot of talk these days of sustainability – becoming sustainable,
achieving sustainability, creating sustainable products, and so on.
Sustainability can have different meanings, depending on what you are
talking about. If your organization is interested in gaining
sustainability notoriety, you might be interested in The Institute for
Sustainable Development’s Green Plus program. It is a sustainability
education program and certification for small businesses and nonprofits.
It helps smaller organizations create a sustainability road map based
on the triple bottom line, (people, planet, profit), and rewards them
for their efforts. "




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  I read the article....And yet one more sticker you can put on your products...for a price!   I cringe at this trend  (the one-more-sticker trend).  However I do realize that "sustainable" seems to be the new buzz-word among the environmentally conscious farming community and  consumer...although from my experience, I have found that the average consumer really does not know what that really means.

   It would be a good thing for all who can to strive for sustainability in your operation where possible. It is a responsible way to farm.  As far as certification/approval....well, it does help marketability.  Those who happen to be noticed for their own efforts and awarded for results, should be applauded.  But to make this akin to the "Certified Organic" issues farmers face (check out the latest posts on "Future of Food and Farming" Thread.). Here we go again!( Rolling the eyes)

 

- Converse

I think these kinds of things are gaining traction in the market place in the last 5 years, but there is still a long way to go.  I listen to CNBC in my car and yesterday I heard the "natural" chicken story at least 3 or 4 times (it seems like even more). Here's a link. I find the growth of organic and natural or hormone and antibiotic free food encouraging.

Converse:

 

From this comment above and your posts on other related topics, I get the idea that you also have a big problem with the way "sustainable", "eco", "green" and a whole lot of other environmental buzzwords have been highjacked by marketers in order to sell products or to increase the perceived value of an item.  I find this extremely troubling as well. 

 

A further issue I have though, is the fact that with this marketing interference, as well as political and economical meddling in the ecological message of sustainability and climate change, the true need for sustainable living is being lost.  In the North of South Africa is a once mighty river called the Mfolozi, which, when the British Navy surveyed it over 100 years ago, was deep enough to sail a navy frigate into.  You can walk across it now thanks to the sugar cane farmers.  The Reef, once a source of wealth, is now bubbling up toxic ground water thanks to a century of unrestricted and uncontrolled mining activity.  The message of sustainability is not one of a pretty banana versus one with spots on.  The true meaning of sustainability is that if we do not stop unsustainable practices, we will kill off our planet's capability of feeding 6 or 7 billion people, and that this risk is not distant or remote.

 

While there are many farmers out there that are not hell bent on distroying the planet, there is a need to change how many things are done in food production.  I have seen in some posts that you refer to yourself as a "real" farmer - I hope this is not because you think that the small-scale tunnel efforts that will drive urban food production in the future is somehow something not worthy of being called farming.  Locally produced, low food mile sustainable production will be totally mainstream in Europe and the UK within the next few years.  This is not a marketing ploy, but a desire of consumers and producers to live sustainable livelyhoods.  This is not saying that what you are doing is wrong, and as I said before, I share your dislike of stickers and labels, but the real reason why the people are pushing sustainability on this forum is not for stickers or labels. 

Dear Converse,

 

I too have a major dislike for "Big Brother...Government". However, being a student of Economics & Accountancy, I have so far experienced that "Laissez Faire" system to life just does not work. I certainly do not advocate it's other extreme. We do need to keep in mind we are all entitled to certain rights as stated in The United States Declaration of Independence, which was primarily drafted by Jefferson,

 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

 

In order to ensure that this is possible, we do need to have some ground rules that we should adhere to. I believe that Kobus has really explained in a wonderful manner the result of a "free for all...Laissez Faire" system that has no regard for what the end result is to others & the environment so long as self enrichment results. Why should I be deprived of my unalienable rights by those who insist on using un-sustainable means. Their actions trespass on my Liberty and pursuit of Happiness. I believe in and try to live by the above Statement drafted by Jefferson, so It is for these reasons that I am advocating a "self policing" system without the forced need of "Big Brother' .

 

God bless,

 

  Greetings,

 

   This is a great discussion.  Sounds like mostly we all agree.

   Kobus, you mentioned:  " I have seen in some posts that you refer to yourself as a "real" farmer - I hope this is not because you think that the small-scale tunnel efforts that will drive urban food production in the future is somehow something not worthy of being called farming.  Locally produced, low food mile sustainable production will be totally mainstream in Europe and the UK within the next few years.  This is not a marketing ploy, but a desire of consumers and producers to live sustainable livelyhoods. "

 

   May be I did not get my points across accurately.  Yes, I am a "real" farmer....We have ARE what most would call a "small farm". It is truly a family run operation.  We do a LOT of educating the public when we are out in the markets. So yes, we are part of the low-mile local food production group.( low-mile as is possible out here).  And Yes I agree with your statement about the validity of the place of small farms in the economy of the future AND it being very worthy.   

 

Kobus, I am not sure what you mean by " This is not saying that what you are doing is wrong..."

    I am a firm believer in environmental stewardship.  It is possible to regulate the small farmer who is wanting to be environmently responsible right out of the field ( or pond) - pun intended.

 

 

Sahib wrote: " I believe in and try to live by the above Statement drafted by Jefferson, so It is for these reasons that I am advocating a "self policing" system without the forced need of "Big Brother' ."

    And I agree with  this as my stand.

 

  Maybe it is just that we cannot count on everyone to be responsible in their farming/aquaponics.  Striving to BE  and ATTAINING sustainable is different than being "Certified"  or "approved".. At that point we move into the realm of oversight and departmental mire, hoops to jump through, etc... If someone wants to go the "certified route", fine.  BUT this should not be a requirement nor should someone who does not shoulder the expense of "certification" be seen as a less-than-good producer.

The hi-jacking of these buzz words was well described by Kobus above.   Not sure what the answer is.  It is a perplexing situation.

 

 

- Converse

  

Hello Converse: The rather fleeting statement can be expanded as meaning: I know, or assume, that you are also practicing conventional farming methods.  It may sound as if we have an "either or" approach to sustainability, in that conventional is bad and that tunnel is more likely to be sustainable, which is not the case.  I am aware of sustainable practice initiatives in conventional farming sectors here in my country, but as a non farmer, am driving the sustainable production point of view rather one-sided towards tunnel farming not because I think all conventional methods are incorrect, but because I see a greater future in promoting tunnel based agriculture.

 

Hope this helps.

Converse said:

  

Kobus, I am not sure what you mean by " This is not saying that what you are doing is wrong..."

    I am a firm believer in environmental stewardship.  It is possible to regulate the small farmer who is wanting to be environmently responsible right out of the field ( or pond) - pun intended.

 

- Converse

  

I refuse to sell my hard labor to just anyone. I only sell to friends. In fact I don't really sell anything at all because my friends know what I do and go through to bring them and their families, truly wholesome foods. Foods they can't get anywhere else. With prepaid memberships a farm doesn't need any stinkin stickers or certification, nor risks his livelihood or income because he/she is paid to manage and land is rented. In my case I don't get an income from managing but from teaching and consulting.

I agree.  I have to admit I used to be quite the advocate for some kind of aquaponic certification, but my experience as a farmer and getting to know my market and clientele has enlightened me.  There is significantly more value for our customers in the simplicity of "Know your farmer, Know your food".  We spend countless hours educating our consumer about the benefits of growing aquaponically and they have come to trust us. 

Not to long ago, I sent out a survey in our newsletter and questioned if people truly trust the USDA certification on organic food, if they want to pay for it, because they would, not I, or if they trust knowing their farmer more.  An overwhelming 96% said they don't trust the USDA and trust knowing their local farmer growing their food. 

We have deliberated for nearly a year on getting our organic cert.  We can, we have everything in place, but since surveying our customers and our losing faith in this certification system and the cost and the big brother intrusion we would have to deal with, we have finally decided against it.  Sure we would get more for our produce, but really that would just offset the cost of having it. I absolutely think there is a value in it if you intend to sell to big box stores and chains where you can not know your customer personally, but that is not our focus.

Rather than advocating any kind of certification program that would just invariably cost the farmer and the consumer, I believe there is far more value in educating your clientele.  The value in that is unparalled.

Yes, dealing as directly as possible with the farmers will play a major role in not only ensuring safe food but also in ensuring the lower cost of food while also ensuring an acceptable standard of living for your farmers.

 

These things along with small farms all over the place rather than huge factory farms or the traditional monocrop giant fields will also play a big role in food security.

 

And next step or first step for some of us, everyone should be growing something.  However big or small, even if it's just a little mint plant in a pot on the windowsill by the kitchen sink, every household should take a tiny step to grow even just the tinyest bit of their own food.  If apartment dwellers can grow a little of their own herbs and people with a yard or patio grow a little more of their own and people in the suburbs were to have a small garden or aquaponics system it would all play a huge part in the health of the western world as well as showing that the planet really CAN grow enough food to feed the growing population.  Now if we still insist on growing acres of lawn that requires us to pollute the water and burn fuel to mow it, well then no, the planet won't be able to keep up and do it for us.

 

As to getting some sort of stamp of approval.  Well if selling directly to customers who you get to know, that is the stamp of approval.  I'm going to be selling some stuff through the Orlando Home Grown Co-op and they come out and inspect the farm and they are the stamp of approval though there are also means of getting to know the customers to an extent through the co-op as well.  And I'm having trouble envisioning a small farm really being able to grow enough to sell it on a big enough scale to NOT know their customers, well I suppose there are companies out there who go around and buy from lots of small truck farms and then sell it all under their own label.

I read the full article and also just spent a good deal of time exploring their website.  They indicate there is a fee to become a member, anywhere from $150 to $550, but they do not infer how much cost is involved in the certification process.  Surely there are costs as inspections are required by their staff of your facility and if it is anything like O cert, you pay travel, lodging and per diem for the inspector.  I just sent off a question to them to inquire about the costs of getting certified through their program.  Perhaps, there is none.  As soon as I hear back, I will post the response here.

Namaste Carey,

 

Yes I too do not like to sell or even give the fruits of my hard "labor to just anyone". I had posted this statement & article so as to get discussion started about what steps we are taking or should take to ensure that we are following methods that are "Sustaining"...another discussion that we have already engaged in (Harold's discussion thread). Yes education of the local community and your friends / customers will overcome their concerns...but what about the question of "Sustainability". In many parts of the world, just being able to get food is a blessing...regardless of how and where it is grown (I am sure that you are familiar with this is as you have travelled and seen the less fortunate of our world).

 

Please spend some time reading the aim of the article. No need to get "Certified" as such...just an attempt to get your thoughts in that direction. Why am I concerned?  I re-post my earlier reply...

 

I too have a major dislike for "Big Brother...Government". However, being a student of Economics & Accountancy, I have so far experienced that "Laissez Faire" system to life just does not work. I certainly do not advocate it's other extreme. We do need to keep in mind we are all entitled to certain rights as stated in The United States Declaration of Independence, which was primarily drafted by Jefferson,

 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

 

In order to ensure that this is possible, we do need to have some ground rules that we should adhere to. I believe that Kobus has really explained in a wonderful manner the result of a "free for all...Laissez Faire" system that has no regard for what the end result is to others & the environment so long as self enrichment results. Why should I be deprived of my unalienable rights by those who insist on using un-sustainable means. Their actions trespass on my Liberty and pursuit of Happiness. I believe in and try to live by the above Statement drafted by Jefferson, so It is for these reasons that I am advocating a "self policing" system without the forced need of "Big Brother' .

 

God bless,



Carey Ma said:

I refuse to sell my hard labor to just anyone. I only sell to friends. In fact I don't really sell anything at all because my friends know what I do and go through to bring them and their families, truly wholesome foods. Foods they can't get anywhere else. With prepaid memberships a farm doesn't need any stinkin stickers or certification, nor risks his livelihood or income because he/she is paid to manage and land is rented. In my case I don't get an income from managing but from teaching and consulting.

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