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Posts Tagged ‘Farmer Friday’

Farmer Friday: Food Justice and The Family Garden

Do you believe in dignity, respect and human rights? This Farmer Friday, we will chat about food justice in the farm system. 

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

Food Justice: Fair treatment for all who labor in the food and farm system

Buying organic is important not just for your personal health and the health of the land, but also for the health of those who work in the fields growing that food.  However, there are other challenges in our food system when you start looking through a social justice lens.

Did you know farmworkers are exempt from some of the labor laws that protect almost all other workers in the United States (e.g., such as right to overtime pay and right to organize)?

Farm work is consistently one of the top three most dangerous jobs in the United States and also one of the lowest paid jobs, with an average annual income of between $12,500 and $15,000 for an individual and $17,500 and $20,000 for a family.*

These statistics are shocking yet very real.

photo3In 1999, recognizing that the U.S. National Organic Program’s standards did not address the people involved in organic agriculture, FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh collaborated with other nonprofits working to create equity and fairness in our food system to begin a stakeholder process to develop standards for the fair and just treatment of the people involved in organic and sustainable agriculture. The group called the effort the Agricultural Justice Project(AJP).

AJP seeks to set the bar high for social justice in the food system and transform the dominant food system that has failed its farmers and workers into one where human rights and dignity are valued and rewarded, right alongside protection of natural resources.

AJP created a domestic fair trade food label, called Food Justice Certified, which is backed and governed by food system stakeholders. Food Justice Certification is unique in the high level of integrity set by the comprehensive standards, the non-proprietary approach, and the inclusion of farm worker organizations in the inspections.

The Family Garden, a 25-acre Certified Organic farm located in Bell, was the first farm in the south to apply for the Food Justice Certified label. BrownFamily_cropped

“I want to grow food as respectfully and honorably as I can,” said Jordan Brown, owner of The Family Garden. “I have experienced positive feedback from many of our customers and others in the community in regards to our Food Justice Certified label. The positive feedback has helped us establish more loyal customers.”

“I am glad there are organizations working together to create a certification, to have a third party come in and verify what the farms are saying and create a level of accountability.”

To further advocate for farmworker rights, FOG, along with AJP and Little Bean Productions, created Hungry for Justice: Spotlight on the South, a social justice film that tells the story of The Family Garden and their commitment to focus on social justice issues for their workers by seeking Food Justice Certified label.

FOG’s passion is to advocate for farmer and farmworker rights, dignity and respect for the environment. 

                                                            Please join us as we continue our fight for all who labor in the food and farm system and become a FOG member today!

*NAWS 2007-2009 data published by National Center for Farmworker Health, Inc. 

Farmer Friday: Alachua County Farmers Market EBT Program

We are excited to highlight the Alachua County Farmers Market EBT Program for today’s Farmer Friday!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

Alachua County Farmers Market EBT Program

Since 2011, Florida Organic Growers has operated the Alachua County Farmers Market EBT program, which enables and encourages SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) recipients to shop at two of our local farmers markets – the Alachua County Farmers Market and the Union Street Farmers Market.

Our EBT program has made fresh, healthy, local produce available to Alachua County residents in need and for many who have not had access otherwise.

Between 2011 and today, the program has:

  • Completed 5,885 federal nutrition benefit transactions
  • $132,963 in revenue generated by Fresh Access Bucks and federal benefits on Florida-grown fruits and vegetables
  • 2 farmers markets participating with SNAP
  • More than 70 participating farmers

John Bitter
John Bitter and Amy Van Scoik, founders and owners of Frog Song Organics, a 28-acre certified organic production farm located in Hawthorne, have benefited greatly from the EBT program.

“The EBT program is a huge benefit to our business and to other local growers,” said Amy.

“We believe that healthy food should be accessible to anyone who wants to eat it. FOG’s EBT program has truly worked to help build a successful farmers market and to support local growers by widening the base of potential shoppers. The EBT program purchases represent a significant part of our business in Alachua County, with over $12,706 in tokens (of all types) accepted in 2014.”

To find out more about our EBT program, please check out this great video.

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for the expansion of local food access and increase business for family scale farmers.

Please join us as we continue our fight to provide healthy food access for all and for this next generation of family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!

Farmer Friday: Conservation

We are excited for Farmer Friday today!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.

Conservation and Organic Farming

FOG has played an active role in preserving Florida through conservation efforts.

Since 2008, FOG has been involved with Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), both nationally and statewide, and was instrumental in helping them recognize organic farming in regard to conservation. Organic production systems exemplify agricultural conservation practices and this is a natural partnership.

The NRCS is a branch of the USDA that was established in 1935 to help insure that water and soil was adequately conserved on farm, grazing and forest lands. It is FOG’s belief there are no better stewards of the land then organic farmers but because of years of tailoring of programs for conventional farms many organic farms weren’t able to access many of the resources and programs of NRCS. FOG worked with National Center for Appropriate Technology to help insure that organic farms would be recognized and eligible for NRCS programs.

Conservation is the heart of Worden Farm, an 85-acre Certified Organic family vegetable farm located in Punta Gorda.

Worden Farm6

The farm is part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), a voluntary program that provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers to help plan and implement conservation practices that address natural resource concerns and for opportunities to improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland.

Chris and Eva WordenIn 2005, Chris and Eva Worden, owners of Worden Farm, installed a state-of-the-art micro irrigation system to help with water conservation. The irrigation system prevents evaporation and provides a slow drip to crops. The farm also uses retention ponds surrounding the perimeter as well as water gates and drainage ditches.

The Wordens planted native species and are continuing to remove invasive species from the farm. They also planted numerous trees to provide wind breaks in order to prevent crop damage.

The Wordens also bought a neighboring property full of pine woods and plan to leave it untouched.

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for conservation and promote the sustainability of beautiful Florida for the next generation of family scale farmers.

Please join us as we continue our fight for this next generation of family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!

Farmer Friday: Organic Certification Cost Share and Bee Heaven Farm

Welcome to the first Farmer Friday!

Each Friday in November and December, we are excited to bring you stories of what Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has accomplished in the organic and farming industry and how its impacted farmers, consumers and the community while spotlighting farmers in Florida who have benefitted from our work.

We encourage you to join us as a member to allow us to continue this invaluable work.


Organic Certification Cost Share: How FOG helped make it happen

FOG was key in the development of the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program. In 1999, Florida, along with Minnesota and North Carolina, experimented with a statewide cost share certification program to reimburse organic producers a portion of their organic certification costs. FOG Executive Director Marty Mesh’s goal was to provide a way for small farmers to continue organic certification without being priced out of the marketplace due to the escalating certification costs.

Due to overwhelming interest and great results, the program continued in 2000 and 2001 and the language for the cost share program was used as a model in the 2002 Farm Bill. avos

Thanks to FOG’s hard work and persistence, the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program is still in existence and was included in the 2014 Farm Bill that passed earlier this year.

Margie-n-Russell-avosFarmer Margie Pikarsky, owner of Bee Heaven Farm, a five-acre diversified family farm in Homestead, has benefitted from the cost share program and is a strong proponent of organic certification.

“The organic cost share program has helped make organic certification affordable for me, and for small farmers everywhere,” said Margie. “I always hear people saying that they can’t afford organic certification because it costs too much. They expect to spend $1000 or more and just can’t justify it. These folks don’t know about the cost share program, so I explain it to them.”

“I’ve been taking advantage of this cost share every year since it began, except for one year that the program wasn’t funded. That year took a bite out of us, so I’m happy to see that it’s been funded again in the Farm Bill. I’m grateful that we have a champion like Marty Mesh fighting for organic farmers!”

Part of FOG’s mission is to advocate for family scale farmers and make sure they aren’t left behind as policies such as, Organic Certification Cost Share Program are developed.

 Please join us as we continue our fight for family scale farmers and become a FOG member today!