Resources for greenhouse growers considering organic certification
There are many Michigan State University Extension and national resources growers can consult about becoming certified organic.
In some markets that have more price plasticity, consumers are willing to pay a premium for organically-certified vegetables, fruits, herbs and plants. Therefore, some greenhouse growers that are supplying product to these markets are considering organic certification in order to meet the demand. Greenhouse growers who are considering organic certification will need to consider the following for organic certification: media that is already certified organic or media that is mixed with organic fertilizers and composts, organically-certified pesticides and methods on how to use them.
In order to get started in becoming organically-certified, Michigan State University Extension recommends the following resources:
- Starting steps for greenhouse organic certification: This MSU Extension article lists many of the requirements for greenhouses to begin the organic certification process.
- Greenhouse Organic Transplant Production: This guide by MSU’s John Biernbaum provides information for beginning growers on greenhouse production and specific recommendations on root media options, fertility management options and pest management options.
- ATTRA, a sustainable agriculture program, has been developed and managed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). Growers should click on the “Organic Farming” tab and they will find the following resources that will be helpful:
- MSU Organic Certification website: This resource describes how growers will need to begin practicing U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic practices for three years, keep records indicating organic practices have been followed, and then how to contact a USDA-approved organic certifying agency.
- MSU Certification Resources website: This resource describes how to become nationally or internationally certified organic.
- USDA: Becoming a Certified Organic Operation: This website provides extensive resources on organic certification including a fact sheet and a frequently asked questions page.
According to Biernbaum, the following organic certification firms are commonly used for organic certification in Michigan:
- Midwest Organic Services Association, Inc.
122 W. Jefferson St.
P.O. Box 821
Viroqua, WI 54665
- Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association
9665 Kline Rd.
West Salem, OH 44287
- Global Organic Alliance, Inc.
3185 TPW RD 179, P.O. Box 530
Bellefontaine, OH 43311
- Ecocert ICO (formerly known as Indiana Certified Organic)
PO Box 158
Plainfield, Indiana 46168
Growers considering implementing organic practices should first consider these resources before pursuing certification.