Growing Organic – Keeping it Clean
One of the many great things about Binford Farmers Market is the fresh produce: fruit and vegetables grown locally, often organically, which really is still fresh when it hits the market stall on the day. It really is great to be able to trust the food we are buying, especially with all the publicity at the moment about GMO crops. Whether or not we personally agree with modifying food crops through integrating DNA with inbuilt pesticides or altering genetic structure to reduce spoilage and crop losses, there is still so much controversy at the moment that many of us prefer to buy our food “au natural”; with the health and safety controls in place at the BFM, we can rest assured that what we are taking home to feed our kids on is safe and wholesome.
Caretaking the Soil
Of course there is more involved in growing healthy to eat produce than just using natural fertilizers and pest control. Good husbandry builds and improves soil through the use of practices such as crop rotation, cover crops, organic fertilizers and minimum tillage; allowing improvement in soil formation and structure by encouraging the natural flora and fauna found in soils and reducing erosion. Growing crops organically reduces unsustainable energy use by helping to lower the demand for chemically produced agricultural products and by returning crop residues to the soil, carbon is returned to storage, rather than adding to our carbon footprint, and helps increase productivity.
Organic farming produces more biodiversity than other methods of crop production. Use of traditional and adapted seeds help to maintain the gene pool and viability of crops, promotes resistance to disease and resilience against climatic conditions. The lack of chemicals in the environment encourages natural biodiversity of species and attracts pest predators such as ladybugs and pollinators – e.g. honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies and moths. Providing healthy, unpolluted habitats promotes the increase, as well as re-colonization, of native flora and fauna in the local environment, helping protect species for our children’s children to enjoy and wonder at. GMOs are not permitted at all in organic farming and, accidental cross-contamination excepted, organic crops are as natural and wholesome as you could hope to get. The upside of using heirloom seeds is not only that you help preserve our wonderful heritage, but that these non-modified seeds can be used to harvest our next season’s seeds and the season after that…
Protecting the Groundwater
As virtually all of the water in our area comes from groundwater sources, it is important that we do our bit to help preserve the quality of that water. Indiana does an amazing job of ensuring that demand for clean, potable water is met, with around 11 million gallons of water a day being taken from the system for industrial (around 65% of demand), commercial, agricultural and domestic purposes. Generally ground water is safe and the quality of drinking water very good. Farming organically vastly reduces the danger of runoff contaminating surface water and percolating through to aquifers below ground. There is much information out in the public eye about surface water contamination by agrochemical runoff and industrial spillage, but one factor that perhaps we don’t thing hard enough about is our impact on the environment. One cause of surface and groundwater contamination that rarely seems to make the news is from pharmaceuticals; though we may understand that the water industry is regulated and that no spillage into the environment occurs, we can overlook or ignore our own roles in pharma pollution. At the current time, according to the KwikMed report on the environmental effects of the pharmaceuticals industry on the environment, the long term effects of improper disposal of medications are not fully understood and there is much research still to be conducted; but by becoming aware and conscientious about how we dispose of unwanted meds and where, we can play an important part in reducing the impact of pharmaceuticals on the environment generally and our water supply in particular. Although water needs are being met, increasing demand, coupled with climate change could see problems arising in the future through reduction in surface water levels, reduction in groundwater re-charge and degradation of wetlands. Add to this the risk of contamination and it is clear that we need to be proactive in preserving our local environment and, as a direct consequence of that conservation, ensuring that the local produce that we consume continues to be as healthy and wholesome as it presently is.