There are over 550 organic farms in Minnesota. Much of the farm land has been passed on from generation to generation and the farms claim that their history has always been organic.
Determining Certified Organic Farms in Minnesota
What makes a farm organic and thereby certified by Minnesota's standards?
- The farms use natural resources without depleting the environment. This means taking care of the soil, water, and landscape and not polluting them in any way.
- Organic farms do not use or release synthetic pesticides.
- Organic farms sustain the ecosystems better than conventional farms, allowing for insects, plant life, and animals to continue in a more natural habitat.
- Operating free from the conventional petrochemical-based industrial agriculture.
- No antibiotics, animal byproducts, or added growth stimulants are fed to the animals.
Farms are periodically inspected and must comply with the regulations in order to keep their organic certification. Farmers must keep records about soil, fertilizer, seeds, and harvest methods. There is a lot of documentation involved in proving that a farm is continuing to run on an organic status.
As with any type of farm, there are a number of crops that are grown on an organic farm. A number of the organic farms across the state have only a few crops while one farm grows over 40 crops each year. Crops grown on organic farms in Minnesota include:
- Yellow corn
- Blue corn
- Soy beans
Animals on Organic Farms in Minnesota
The animals raised and pastured on the land include:
- Beef cattle
Organic farmers generally all hold the same mission. That is to offer consumers a healthier way of life by providing all natural meat and produce that has been grown in an ecologically- responsible environment. Farmers agree that when locally grown natural products are purchased, a person is taking a step toward a healthier and greener society. Although running a sustainable farm may take more time and energy, owners believe the results are worth it. Farmers take pride in offering the best products--products they feel are superior to produce grown on traditional or conventional farms.
Who are the consumers of organic meats and vegetables? Minnesota's organic farms sell their produce to natural foods stores, food co-ops, and wholesalers from the Twin Cities to Chicago.
Those participating in the co-op programs join, or subscribe, to a farm and pick up produce from the growers on a weekly or biweekly basis. Many farms issue a newsletter for the buyers or shareholders. This keeps the consumer informed on recipes for cooking the food they have purchased, as well as any farm updates.
Farmers also cart their fresh produce to farmers markets across the state. When you go to a market, look for the signs that state the cucumbers and beets were grown organically.
Taste and Cost
Farmers who grow organic fruits and vegetables believe their produce is more nutritious than non-organic crops. Many feel that organic tastes better. Poultry and beef which are fed natural, organic diets have less fat than those fed with animal by products and injected with growth stimulants and hormones. The animals raised on organic farms are generally treated more humanely and many organic farms are certified humane as well.
Studies have been done to show that apples grown on organic farms are sweeter than those grown elsewhere. Although consumers may pay more for organically-grown crops and meats, they feel the extra cost is worth it because the food they enjoy has been grown in an environmentally responsible manner.
Visit a Farm
Many organic farms in the area are happy to have visitors. Church and school groups, as well as individuals, are welcome to see what operating an organic farm entails. Many of the farms have websites where you can contact the owners.