Compiled by CFSA

How to Use This Handbook

There is no recipe for transitioning to organic production and certification. Furthermore, we recognize that it can be tough for farmers to find the time to fairly evaluate the possibility of certifying their farm. In the spring and summer of 2012, CFSA conducted extensive research to identify the challenges that organic operations face in North and South Carolina. Information was gathered through online surveying, farm visits, and through interviews with farmers, certifying agents and organic inspectors. The results were used to create this handbook as a guide for those considering organics within the region.

The aim of this publication is to highlight the common pitfalls for produce farmers in organic transition and provide focused resources that address them. Our hope is that this handbook can save farmers time and connect them with the most useful information, written by experts in the field, to help them successfully navigate their organic certification process.

The handbook is organized into seven sections that correlate to the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations for crop production. Browse the links within each section to learn more about everything from the certification process to production considerations to marketing options. Whenever possible, listings of Carolina-specific resources (certifying agents, certification cost share, organic seed sources, fertility inputs, reported problem pests, wholesale opportunities, etc.) were compiled for easy reference.

We encourage your feedback on this project. Please contact us with suggestions, questions, or comments.

CFSA’s Organic Transition and Production Handbook for Produce Farmers

Organic Certification


NOTE: For even more great resources, including templates that you can use to calculate the profits and losses on your farm, don’t miss our page on recordkeeping!

Allowed and Prohibited Substances

Developing an Organic System Plan

Soil Fertility

Pest Management

Insect Pests




The development of this resource was made possible through funding from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.