My Experience As A Member Of The Farm Team
Organic…All-Natural…non-GMO…no additives. So what do these all really mean? My summer as a graduate student farmworker has given me the opportunity to investigate this appetizing discussion frequently circling food communities and connoisseurs. Now I am far from claiming myself a food guru, but my time so far on the UW Farm has opened tremendous insight on the day-to-day experience of an urban farmer. The weed-pulverizing, tomato-plant trellising, flower/insectary stewarding, and wash/pack sanitizing motions can all seem laborious – maybe even downright exhausting – and all this just for a little green and white, circle-shaped sticker on the UW Farm produce. Is this really worth the trouble?
Well, let’s explore the nature of the beets, or all the crops for that matter.
My Experience With The USDA Organic Application
A federally-accredited certification, the label “USDA Organic” complies with the requirements of the National Organic Program, which enrolls farms through a rigorous, 40-plus-page record-keeping application. What this means is that the farm operates only with approved organic pesticides, (the farm does not use herbicides), approved fertilizers, sources only organic seed* vendors, and practices the fragile integrity of preserving the biodiversity on our 2-acre plot of farmland.
My View From The One Health World
All life forms are connected. Understanding the interactions between them is critical to protecting the health of all, and this key connection is a daily practice in the life of an organic farmer. One Health emphasizes a critical need to work together from multiple disciplines for the greatest health outcome for humans, animals, plants, and the environment. This includes surrounding wildlife and the very soil we grow our food from. To isolate these components would be a great opportunity overlooked. Where the One Health model may thrive greatly are in resource-challenged countries, as well as limited-capacity land.
UW Farm’s city-embedded urban farming model of sustainability and education encapsulates the delicate balance of high density human population intermingled with our natural environment and the heavy undertaking of locally-grown and community-supported agriculture.
First Year Master of Public Health, One Health
Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
*Seed must be organic once the farm is certified. If not, a seed search must be completed, or a case must be made that the variety is rare, landrace, or unique in some way and is also not GMO. For more on organic certification visit this link: https://agr.wa.gov/organic