‘Organic agriculture is a safe, sustainable farming system, producing healthy crops and livestock without damage to the environment.’
– Soil Association
‘The main components of an organic farming system are the avoidance of artificial fertilisers and pesticides, the use of crop rotations, and other forms of husbandry to maintain fertility and control weeds, pests and diseases. The management of organic livestock, soil and crops requires special care in nurturing positive health and vitality’
– Soil Association
Organic farmers work with the natural environment to ensure healthy soil, crops and livestock. They work to a set of standards which are designed to reduce the impact of farming and food production on the planet and to limit the impact of the chemical environment on animal and human health. For example, they use natural fertilisers, no herbicides, very limited pesticides, lower stocking rates and no routine use of antibiotics. The aim is to promote positive health in the soil, crops and animals and thereby reduce the need for artificial fertilisers, sprays and medicines.
Organic food processors don’t use artificial additives and all ingredients are fully traceable. Genetically modified organisms are prohibited in organic animal feeds and organic foods.
Every registered organic producer and food processor works to this strict set of standards, keeps detailed records and is regularly inspected by a certification body e.g. Soil Association or Organic Farmers and Growers. Each certification body has its own symbol – ask to see the producer’s organic licence or look for the organic symbol when buying products.
Cumbria is home to a wealth of organic produce. On this site there is a selection of the best the region has to offer. By buying local organic, you’ll know the product is GM and additive-free, fully traceable and that you’ll be helping to increase bio-diversity, promote positive health in farm crops and animals and reduce environmental pollution.
There are many aspects to organic farming. It is not an “add-on” system for farm production but an integrated and holistic approach to managing your land, crops, livestock and business. Maximum reliance is placed on local or farm-derived renewable resources with the minimum possible reliance on external inputs, whether chemical or organic. Key characteristics of organic production, drawn from the 2001 Organic Farm Management Handbook, include:
- protecting long-term fertility of the soil by maintaining organic matter level
- providing crop nutrients indirectly through the action of soil micro-organisms rather than directly through chemical fertilisers;
- nitrogen self-sufficiency by using legumes, biological nitrogen fixation and effective recycling of crop residues and livestock manure;
- controlling weeds, diseases and pests by crop rotations, natural predators, resistant varieties and limited thermal, biological and chemical intervention;
- extensive management of livestock which fully respects their welfare and behavioural needs;
- careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and on conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.