Question of the Week
Answer: I am pleased to provide you with information on alternative farming in Virginia.
Organic Farmgate and Wholesale Prices – USDA ERS
Monthly organic and conventional farmgate prices for broccoli and carrots; monthly organic and conventional wholesale (first receiver) prices for poultry (broilers) and eggs; monthly organic market (f.o.b. or spot) prices for grain and feedstuffs; monthly organic and conventional wholesale prices for broccoli, carrots, and mesclun mix; and a limited set of organic prices (and corresponding conventional prices) for other fruits and vegetables from the Boston and San Francisco wholesale markets.
NewFarm Organic Price Report
Tracks selected prices from the fruit, vegetable, herbs, and grain sectors, comparing organic prices to conventional prices in markets across the country.
Statistics on Alternative Farming
Industry Statistics and Projected Growth, Organic Trade Association
A comparison of conventional, low-input and organic farming systems: The transition phase and long-term viability. UC SAREP Progress Report 1993-1995.
Organizations and Organic Certifiers
Virginia Association for Biological Farming
Conferences, publications, and links to local and regional organizations.
Appalachian Sustainable Development
Focuses on developing healthy, diverse, and ecologically sound economic opportunities through education and training, and the development of cooperative networks and marketing systems.
Virginia Organic Producers and Consumers Association
Advocacy and information.
North Carolina Crop Improvement Association
3709 Hillsborough St.
Raleigh, NC 27607-5464
Organic certification services.
Pennsylvania Certified Organic
106 School Street, Suite 201
Spring Mills, PA 16875
Organic certification services.
Consider such marketing avenues as Community Supported Agriculture, farmers markets, on-farm stands and u-pick, food cooperatives, buying clubs, restaurants, and supermarkets. If there is stagnant demand for organic produce in your town and local region, look for opportunities to market crops in areas such as Blacksburg, Lynchburg, and Roanoke.
The ATTRA publications Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions: A Resource Guide for Farm-to-School and Farm-to-Institution Programs, Community Supported Agriculture, Direct Marketing, Farmers' Markets: Marketing and Business Guide, and Selling to Restaurants are good places to start for learning about these venues.
All publications from ATTRA are available in downloadable PDF or HTML format, or can be ordered free of charge in hard copy by calling 1-800-346-9140.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or figuratively, the community’s farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. Members or shareholders of the farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive shares in the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season, as well as satisfaction gained from reconnecting to the land. Members also share in risks, including poor harvest due to unfavorable weather or pests. Below are several resources to learn more about establishing a CSA farm.
Maintains database of farms, markets, CSA’s, restaurants, and retails outlets that sell locally grown food. Webpage for creating a farm listing: http://www.localharvest.org/register.jsp
Robyn Van En Center, Community Supported Agriculture
Fulton Center for Sustainable Living
1015 Philadelphia Avenue
Chambersburg, PA 17201-9979
Phone: (717) 264-4141
Maintains a database of CSA farms nationwide as well as numerous resources on CSA’s.
Henderson, Elizabeth and Robyn Van En. 2007. Sharing the Harvest, Revised and Expanded. A Citizen's Guide to Community Supported Agriculture. White River Jct., Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing. 800.639.4099
Selected topics covered in the book:
• Creating a CSA: The Decision to Form a CSA , Steps to Forming a CSA , Regional CSA Support Groups
• Labor: Family Work, Hiring Help, Interns
• Share Pricing and CSA Budgets, CSA Legal Structures, Distributing the Harvest, Regional Networking for Farm-Based Regional Development
Organic Resources, Reports, and Publications
1 – ATTRA has several free publications to assist you in transitioning to organic production, which can be downloaded from http://www.attra.org/organic.html Titles include:
• Organic Certification Process
• Preparing for an Organic Inspection: Steps and Checklists
• Transitioning to Organic Production (A Sustainable Agriculture Network publication)
• Guide to ATTRA’s Organic Publications
2 – The Transition from Conventional to Low-Input or Organic Farming Systems: Soil Biology, Soil Chemistry, Soil Physics, Energy Utilization, Economics, and Risk. SARE Grant Project Number: SW99-008
3 – Growing for Market Magazine: The monthly publication of Growing for Market provides a lot of practical information, much of which is written by farmers, on production and marketing topics. The contact information for Growing for Market is:
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