Organic is More Than What You Eat

Driving around the Central San Joaquin Valley of California this time of year you see farms waking up from their winter slumber. Some apricot, nectarine, peach, plum, and almond trees are already in bloom.

Apricot Blossoms

Apricot Blossoms

This means the sound of spray rigs fills the air day and night. There is a window of time when the delicate blossoms that will one day turn into delicious fruits and nuts need protection from disease and insects. So, farmers and/or farm employees must apply the various precautionary chemicals or organic compounds so that the future crop will be productive and profitable.

This is also the time when you can see the difference between organic and conventional farming practices. Never fear, this is not intended to be one of those blogs bashing “those” farmers. This is simply an observation of what is happening this time of year here in California, long before there is anything edible on the trees.

The reader can take this information and, hopefully, add it to their pool of knowledge regarding the differences between conventional and organic farming practices.

Conventional Orchard

Conventional Orchard

One of the most obvious differences can be seen in the condition of the ground or soil.  Ask any organic farmer and they will tell you one of the most difficult challenges is weed control. Weeds use up water and can choke other plants by taking away their light or competing for nutrients from the soil. On the other hand, cover crops (the right kind of weeds) can actually add nutrients to the soil and can prevent the ground from drying out as quickly, thus saving water.

Weeds waiting to be flamed.

Stinging Nettle

Another problem with weeds is they can be skin irritants such as stinging nettle. Yet, nettle can also be harvested and dried to make tea that may have some health benefits.

In orchards with stone fruit, the weeds harbor beneficial insects that provide integrated predatory pest management (IPPM) in the summertime. That means good bugs eat bad bugs. They also provide cover for wildlife such as the California Quail that inhabit our farm. Quail are a favorite food of Red-tailed hawks and other birds of prey. So, we see them on the farm, too. Great Egrets have even taken a stroll in the orchards.

Taking a Stroll

Taking a Stroll

California Quail

California Quail

Regardless of whether organic fruits and nuts are proven more nutritional and safe for eating, organic farming practices have been proven to increase biodiversity on the farm and to enrich the soil so that it will continue to be productive in the long-run. So, organic is more than what you eat. Which orchard would you rather take a stroll in?

The Difference is Obvious

The Difference is Obvious

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Categories: agblog, Agchat, farming, organic farm, photos, Spring, wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Organic is More Than What You Eat

  1. Very informational and this makes me want to go explore more about farming in general and organic in particular 🙂 Aah living in nyc doesn’t give much option especially this winter. Which orchard do you think is better? It looks beautiful out there!

    • I hoped that this blog would encourage readers to want to learn more about farming. The way I look at it, more biodiversity is better for people and wildlife alike. Hope the deep freeze in NY and the surrounding states ends soon. We’re experiencing a severe drought in CA right now, but a good storm is predicted this weekend. Warm wishes to you.

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