Compiled by Eric Soderholm,
Former Organic Transition Coordinator
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association
The development of this resource was made possible through funding from the South Carolina Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
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, contact Eric with suggestions, questions or comments.
CFSA’s Organic Transition and Production Handbook for Produce Farmers
What is Organic Certification, National Organic Program
How to Pick a Certifier, Kleese
Comparison of the Major Certification Agencies in the Carolinas, Hamilton & Soderholm (Updated 11/2014)
NOTE: For even more great resources, including templates that you can use to calculate the profits and losses on your farm, check out our Record Keeping page!
Organic Market Farm Documentation Forms, Born, Kuepper & Cone
Organic Orchard, Vineyard, and Berry Crop Documention Forms, Kuepper & Cone
Allowed and Prohibited Substances
National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, National Organic Program
Organic Materials Compliance, Baier and Gegner
Potting Mixes for Certified Organic Production, Kuepper & Everett
Sources of Certified Organic Seed, Soderholm
Developing an Organic System Plan
Organic System Plan Market Farm Plan, Kuepper
Soil Fertility on Organic Farms, Baldwin
How to Convert an Inorganic Fertilizer Recommendation Into an Organic One, McLaurin & Reeves
Cover Crops on Organic Farms, Baldwin & Creamer
Using Organic Nutrient Sources, Sanchez & Richard
Crop Rotation and Cover Crops, Hitt, Roos & Wynne
Crop Rotation on Organic Farms, Baldwin
Composting on Organic Farms, Baldwin & Greenfield
Manures for Organic Production, Kuepper
Introduction Pest, Weed, Disease Management, Soderholm
Insect Management on Organic Farms, Linker, Orr & Barbercheck
Farmscaping: Making Use of Nature’s Pest Management Services. Zehnder, G.2011 eOrganic article. Available at http://www.extension.org/pages
Top Eight Reported Insect Pests on Carolina Organic Produce Farms, NC Extension: AG 295
Flea Beetle: Organic Control Options, Kuepper
Stink Bug Management Using Trap Crops in Organic Farming. Mizell, R.F.2011 eOrganic article. Available at http://www.extension.org/pages
Top Ten Reported Problem Weeds on Carolina Organic Farms, Virginia Tech Weed ID Guide
Organic Disease Management, Colucci
Downy Mildew Control in Cucurbits, Kuepper
Managing Cucurbit Powdery Mildew Organically. McGrath, M.2010 eOrganic article. Available at http://www.extension.org/artic
Organic Management of Late Blight of Potato and Tomato (Phytophthora infestans). Stone, A. 2009 eOrganic article. Available at http://www.extension.org/artic
Wholesale Buyers in the Carolinas, Soderholm