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Farmer Wisdom on Choosing Organics

“Chemical farming is like painting by numbers. Organic farming is striving to be a real artist and accept challenges.” – Elmer Laird, SK

“The last year of conventional, we spent more dollars per acre on chemicals than we paid for the farm. I was getting to the point where I was hating to go to the field sometimes because I hated what I was doing. As soon as we made the decision to go organic that was gone – sort of like being born again!” - Ken Marisett, ON

“Going organic was the best move I ever made. I wouldn’t be farming any more if I was still using chemicals. [My wife] had a sense of the need for clean, healthy food and wanted our farm to produce this type of food. She was very encouraging and supportive. I listened to her and should have listened to her sooner. It’s a problem that too few men listen to their wives about food quality. The women know about these things.” - Robert Dagenais, SK

Now we’re paying ourselves instead of the herbicide company. – Steve Lalonde, QC

“We always had a vision to farm organically – to steward the land and produce high-quality, mineral-rich food from good soil, leading to healthy people and healthy eco-systems. Organic farming is a whole lot more satisfying. We’re not pumping chemicals into the landscape. Most crops exceed expectations. You need to have an adventurous spirit to change to organics.” – Pamela Irving, BC

“We watched and continue to witness our neighbours drop out one by one as they either rented out or auctioned off their century-old farms. And we knew we would have been next if we didn’t take action.” –Bob Willick, SK

“The hardest part of going organic is to believe in it yourself. You gain experience and become better. You learn as you go.” – Rudy Zubler, ON

“I had terrible allergies 25 years ago. In fact, the doctor told me to give up the farm because I had one of the worst cases he had ever seen. Since I stopped using chemicals, I have had very few problems. Nothing like what I had suffered from before.” - David Ling, PEI

“In conventional production, the economics aren’t right. You try to overproduce to compensate for low prices. That seems to be the wrong thinking. It makes sense to produce less for more. When I was looking at switching to organic, the future for conventional farming was not looking good. But we had heard only positive things from organic producers. I researched the economics and projected that I could have a viable organic operation for my size of farm, whereas under conventional I could foresee I couldn’t make it.” – Jack Whetter, SK

"Changing to organic production has given us back ownership of our operation.”  - Réal Samson, QC

“Ours has been a family farm for over 200 years. In the 1960s to ’80s we had a large poultry and beef production. Then we started to realize that conventional production was unsustainable, not working the way it should for a family farm, and looked for an alternative that would be more meaningful for the farm, for the farm family, for the community around us and hopefully for consumers.” - Larry Slipp, NB

“The main barrier was believing that it would work. The biggest change is between your ears.” – Pieter Biemond, ON

"I had lost motivation to put a crop in and now I can’t wait until spring. I feel more like a farmer now, it’s harder but more satisfying. It’s down to earth, building a stronger connection to the earth. I didn’t want to encourage my sons to farm when I was a chemical farmer. Now I have a son who is working as an organic inspector."   - Robert Dagenais, SK

“We found the COG handbooks the most useful of all resources during our transition." - Pamela and Ken Irving, AB.

"We were trying to produce a good crop but the more chemicasl you use the more disease and problems, we didn’t seem to be gaining anything. We had a beautiful crop but we spent lots of money and had no return. It seemed to be getting worse. Our motivation was economic and we wanted to create a future for our farm. We now want to show that organic can work and it is the way of the future for farming.” – Gerry DeRuyck, MB

 

For more farmer wisdom and information about Canadian organic farmer experiences, order Gaining Ground: Making a Successful Transition to Organic Farming from the publications page.