Episode 130. Organic Agriculture in the South

In this podcast, Jeff Schahczenski, agricultural and natural resource specialist with NCAT, has a conversation with Marty Mesh of Mesh & Associates of Gainesville, Florida, about the current and future development of organic production in the South.

While certified organic farming and ranching has been expanding nationwide, its growth in the southern United States has been much slower. In this episode, Jeff and Marty explore many reasons for this slower growth.

Marty Mesh is a leader in organic agriculture in the south and nationwide. A pioneer, visionary, and expert in organic agriculture and food systems, Marty began organic production in 1972. Four years later, he helped found the Bellevue Gardens Organic Farm, which made its reputation by growing and selling much-beloved and sought after organic watermelons nationwide. In 1987 he co-founded Florida Organic Growers and Quality Certification Services in Gainesville, Florida, and served as its Executive Director for over 30 years. In 2004, Marty was named one of the 20 “Most Influential People Developing the Organic Industry,” and in 2014 the Organic Trade Association awarded him the “Growing the Organic Industry” Award.

Marty has helped start, and has served on, Boards of many organizations, including: the Organic Certifiers Council (OCC), Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG), Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA), Organic Trade Association (OTA), Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), Agricultural Justice Project (AJP), The Organic Center (TOC), and many others. Most recently, Marty has worked with Farm Aid connecting farmers around the country with legal, financial, and mental health resources, as well as, with the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) on a project researching the question, “Is Organic Farming Risky?”

Now, Mesh & Associates, LLC continues the work Marty has been committed to for well over 40 years. The diverse team collaborates on a variety of efforts that include national organic research initiatives and local community food projects, always with a focus on increasing opportunities for organic agriculture and farmers and creating socially just food and agricultural systems.

For more information on this topic, you can contact Jeff Schahczenski directly at jeffs@ncat.org.

Related ATTRA Resources:

Farmscaping to Enhance Biological Control

Guide for Organic Crop Producers

Cover Crop Options for Hot and Humid Areas

Cover Crop (340) in Organic Systems

Nutrient Management Plan (590) for Organic Systems

Organic Crop Production Overview

Tip Sheet: Crop Rotation in Organic Farming Systems

Companion Planting & Botanical Pesticides: Concepts & Resources

Please call ATTRA with any and all of your sustainable agriculture questions at 800-346-9140 or e-mail us at askanag@ncat.org. Our two dozen specialists can help you with a vast array of topics, everything from farm planning to pest management, from produce to livestock, and soils to aquaculture.

You can get in touch with NCAT/ATTRA specialists and find our other extensive, and free, sustainable-agriculture publications, webinars, videos, and other resources at NCAT/ATTRA’s website.

You also can stay in touch with NCAT at its Facebook page.

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Also check out NCAT’s Regional Offices’ websites and Facebook Pages!

Southwest Regional Office: Website / Facebook

Western Regional Office: Website / Facebook

Rocky Mountain West Regional Office:  Website /Facebook

Gulf States Regional Office: Website / Facebook

Southeast Regional Office: Website / Facebook

Northeast Regional Office: Website / Facebook