We’ve just entered our one and a half acres at Woodbank Park into organic conversion, a process that covers the changeover from non-organic to organic growing. It’s being overseen by the Soil Association, one of the UK’s organisations for licensing organic food growing. The Association annually inspects every grower it licenses, to ensure that everyone sticks to its stringent set of standards. We now begin the three-year pathway to providing organic, local produce for the Stockport area.
At the same time, FarmStart Abbey Leys passed its annual inspection with flying colours. Why is the organic inspection important? Inspections are there to make sure that growers are helping to maintain healthy soils by keeping to the standards set by the Soil Association. These cover the basics of crop rotations, controlling use of pesticides and how to maintain to soil fertility.
But growing organically isn’t just about a set of rules about what can and can’t be done (although the rules are important!). It’s based on four much broader principles:
The Principle of Health - Organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal and human as one and indivisible.
The Principle of Ecology - Organic agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.
The Principle of Fairness - Organic agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.
The Principle of Care - Organic agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment
These principles are why we are so excited about bringing new land into organic production, however small a piece it is. And why we are aiming to convert a few hundred acres more in the next couple of years when we buy our farm! Learn more about the principles from the Soil Association here.