Southern Belle Organics is the brain-child of Brick and Jennifer Rooks, two first generation organic farmers, trying to make a difference in the world. This page is where we will try to anticipate your questions, and answer the most frequently asked questions about Organic Farming.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Organic Farming?
Organic farming is an agricultural production system wherein farmers plant and grow fruits and vegetables using only natural soil additives as fertilizers. Organic farming doesn’t permit the use of any synthetic chemicals for pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers.
Why do organic farmers rotate crops?
Organic farmers rotate crops from one field to another to avoid growing the same crop in the same place season after season. This helps to keep the soil in good condition. If a farmer grew the same crop in the same spot (monoculture) for a few years, the soil in that field would become depleted of the nutrients that are necessary to grow that crop. By crop rotation, a farmer can grow a crop that demands phosphorus one year, and grow a dissimilar crop that returns that nutrient to the soil the next year. This maintains the vital nutrient balance of the soil.
Do organic farmers add anything to the soil?
Yes, regularly. Organic farmers use a lot of mulch around growing plants to hold moisture in the soil and deter the growth of weeds. They remove weeds and unwanted vegetation from grow fields and combine it with table scraps, grass cuttings, coffee grounds, etc. to create a compost of natural ingredients. Compost can be mixed into the soil during plowing and field preparation, where it decays and gives all its nutrients back to the soil. (Organic farmers can only use organic ingredients in their compost.)
How do organic farmers know which nutrients in the soil have been depleted?
Farmers take samples of the soil and test the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and a host of other minerals. Every state in the country has an agricultural agency associated with the USDA, most of which will test soil samples at no charge during certain months of the year.
What does Certified Organic mean?
Certified Organic means that a product is free of synthetic chemicals like fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides; and that it was produced without dyes, irradiation, genetic engineering, or industrial solvents. Certified organic farms are inspected every year to verify that they are meeting the NOP standards.
Who grants Organic Certification?
The NOP, or National Organics Program, (Federal Advisory Committee made up of fifteen members of the public), develops rules and regulations for the production, handling, and labeling of all organic USDA products. Under these rules and regulations, farmers submit an “organic system plan” to an accredited certifier each year. This submitted plan shows how the farmer will adhere to NOP standards. (This also requires annual third party inspection to maintain organic certification.)
How does organic farming control pest populations?
Organic farming includes practices that protect natural ecosystems, maintains the habitats of beneficial insects and vertebrates, and uses biological pest control. Biological pest control can include the introduction of a pests’ competitor species or the natural enemies of destructive pests.
How does organic farming improve soil and water quality?
Organic farming uses natural forms of fertilizer such as compost and animal manures, and it makes use of cover crops to build up organic matter in the soil. When soil has a high content of organic matter the water retention of the soil increases and nurtures the soil’s microbial communities. These microbial communities keep the nitrogen in the soil longer. Organic fertilizers release their nutrients slowly, over time, allowing the soil organisms to digest more nitrogen before it leeches below the root’s ends (root zero). There is a growing body of research to support the idea that soil quality relates to the ability of crops to withstand insect attacks and repel plant diseases. Recent data from a 12-year study shows that fields under organic management had half the annual nitrate leaching losses of fields under conventional management.
Are Organic yields lower?
Somewhat lower, yes. However, yield differences may be due to unique problems encountered by organic farmers, such as problems with weed control, and crops lost to insect infestation.
Why do organically grown foods cost more?
This is one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to organics. The cost of organically grown food is higher because the price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food, which in the case of organics, requires substituting labor and intensive management for the chemicals used in industrial farming.
Is there a high demand for organically grown foods?
Yes, the demand for organically grown foods grew from an industry wide value of $3.2 billion in 2008 to a $6.2 billion in 2015. That shows the industry has almost doubled in just 7 years. Considering the trend towards eating more organically grown foods, it makes good business sense to grow organically.
More Frequently Asked Questions
If you don’t see your question in our frequently asked questions list, please use the form on our Contact Us page and we will find the answer for you.
Is Southern Belle Organics a “Certified Organic” producer?
Yes, Southern Belle Organics is 100% Certified Organic, and under goes annual third-party audits to verify adherence to NOP standards and USDA regulations.
Does Southern Belle Organics process organically grown foods?
Yes, we do. Southern Belle Organics has a 25,000 square foot processing and packaging facility in Bladenboro, NC, which allows us to package fresh, raw fruits, but we also have a state of the art IQF Tunnel which allows us to individually quick freeze our berries, and package them for frozen storage.