Transitioning to Certified Organic Farming
Thinking about certified organic farming? The following steps will take you through what you need to know to get started.
Step 1: Get to know the new Canadian Standards and Regulations
Step 2: Learn organic farming methods. COG’s resources can help you to do that, but there are lots of other resources out there that can help you get started.
- If you're just starting to think about organic farming and want to talk directly to some organic farmers, the best way to do that is to attend one of COG's or our affiliates' farm tours. In addition to giving you the opportunity to talk directly with organic farmers, farm tours allow you to see and feel organic organic production methods for yourself.
- Attend an organic conference. Conferences offer the best chance to connect with organic organizations and organic farmers. The biggest one around is the annual Guelph Organic Conference in Guelph Ontario. If you're in the Prairie region, Organic Connections happens every two years. In Eastern Ontario, COG's Eco Farm Day is an annual event in Cornwall. In Atlantic Canada, check out the annual ACORN Conference and in BC, check out COABC's Conference/Annual General Meeting
- To find out more about the transition process, we highly recommend the COG publication Gaining Ground: Making a Successful Transition to Organic Farming. This book was written with the transitioning field crop farmer in mind with information from 80 extensive interviews with organic farmers across the country and provides their matter of fact advice about what to do and not do during the three year transition period. COG also has a lot of other technical publication about specific topics. If you can't find what you need in our own publications inventory, then:
- Become a member of COG and check out our free mail order library. You can borrow from over 1,000 collected titles and we pay the postage in both directions. If you are a magazine subscribing member, you’ll also receive the Canadian Organic Grower magazine, and most importantly, through our chapter meetings and activities, you'll get to know other organic farmers in your area that can help you out.
- Use our online directory of organics in Canada to find out who is already organic farming in Canada, where are they, what are they producing. Go to: http://www.cog.ca/our-services/Directory/
- Visit our Organic Links for many more resources, including the Organic Trade Association's collection of resources for exploring the transition to organic in the US and Canada.
- If you still can't figure it out, give us a call toll free at 1 888 375-7383 and we'll try to help you out.
Step 3: Do a land survey. What can be grown on your land? What was the land used for before? Were synthetic chemicals used? How long ago? You may need to conduct soil testing.
Step 4: Decide what you want to produce. Do a market survey. Figure out how you will market your products. For example, you may decide to export your products, sell it to other provinces, or locally at a Farmer’s Market or through a community shared agriculture venture.
Step 5: Find a certifying body to start the certification process. Also review the list of questions you should ask when choosing your CB.