Green Industries Institute hosts USDA Organic Certification Workshop
Monticello, Fla. – Twenty-two participants attended the Organic Certification workshop organized by Florida Organic Growers (FOG) and the Green Industries Institute on April 23, 2012. The audience included specialty crop growers, prospective growers and others who traveled from as far as Gainesville and East of Orlando. The workshop was led by Florida Organic Growers’ Executive Director Marty Mesh and Project Coordinator Jose Perez. Additionally Claire Mitchell from the Green Industries Institute, Margie Cole from Holly Hill Organic Farm, Dr. Jennifer Taylor from Florida A&M University, Steve Tullar from the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) and Covey Washington from IFAS extension collaborated on this workshop.
The workshop began with FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh introducing the principles and origins of organic agriculture. Mesh explained, “Organic agriculture attempts to mimic nature by promoting genetic and species diversity, encouraging beneficial insects, building soil organic matter, promoting efficient use of nutrients, water and other resources. It’s not really a new way of growing food; in fact that’s the way it was done until the 1930’s and 40’s when agrochemicals were developed.” Mesh continued, “Organic agriculture is a kind of agriculture that strives to produce nutritious and safe food sustainably while taking care of the land and nature responsibly.” Further benefits of organic agriculture as described by Mesh include healthy and resilient agroecosystems, minimal pest and disease damage, and resistance to environmental stresses such as flooding or droughts.