So what is the deal with USDA Organic Certification, which appears to be required if you do $5000 or more in gross sales?
Do they provide to AP operations? I have read mix things, such as they do not provide to soil less operations or they won't provide because of the fish effluent water.
I have been to web sites of operations that certainly look like they have to be doing over $5K, but do not say anything about them being certified.
I don't know what the deal is but this is what they explained to me. If I grow in ebb and flow without solids separation and waste management then it does not qualify as "organic" because the effluent hasn't been processed or removed from the system for at least 90 days. However if I were to perform DWC and manage the effluent in other ways, so long as it did not re-enter the grow out area of the system then it could possibly qualify for organic. I don't know that organic certification is required in order to sell food but it certainly would help with marketing. I know there is a "commercial" limit which requires the USDA to inspect your farm but it doesn't involve the organic certification unless that is what you are seeking. That in itself I think is a separate process altogether.
I took a second look at a handful of AP operations and the way they describe their product/operation rather than saying organic is using words/phrases like: all natural, fresh, pure, no chemicals, no pesticides, non gmo seeds, etc, etc... So it seems that if you just keep the word organic out of you company name, advertising, packaging, etc... then you won't have to deal with the certification. I should of done this before posting, because for some odd reason I thought that I saw the term organic used a lot, where actually it seems rather rare.
"Organic" is a government controlled label for packaging. If you are not packaging produce using the "o" word you do not have to get certified. There is a small farm exemption for farms selling less than $5000 annually but you still have to abide by the rules and regs. There is an application through certifying agencies for the exemption.
A while back I started the discussion aquaponics is better then certified organic. You may find it interesting.
There are a few operations that have gotten Organic certification so if you were to follow their process/materials exactly it might not be too hard to follow suit but....... is it really worth the cost if you are selling to a local niche market where your customers know you?
If you are big enough and trying to sell wholesale to big box stores, then perhaps it would be worth your while but when selling local small scale, it may be prohibitively expensive.