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Gaining Ground: Making a Successful Transition to Organic Farming

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The Gaining Ground: Making a Successful Transition to Organic Farming handbook is an invaluable tool for all farmers interested in organic farming, whether conventional, transitional or organic. The book covers all bases – from soil-building and planting to certification and marketing, revealing an approach that is much more than simply farming without chemicals. Based on interviews with over 80 of Canada ’s organic or transitional farmers across the country, this book provides valuable, practical advice and connects you to a national network of organic farmers, the next best thing to having an organic farmer next door. Farmer wisdom is supplemented with a wealth of scientific information from around the globe.

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

The key tools of organic farming, like weed and pest management, crop rotations and green manures, composting and equipment are addressed in Gaining Ground: Making a Successful Transition to Organic Farming. In addition, it discusses the difficult shift in thinking from an input-output approach to an integrated, whole-system approach based on ecological principles. The handbook includes an extensive list of resources for further reading.

“We were trying to produce a good crop but the more chemicals 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

To order your copy, visit COG Publications page, call us toll free at (888) 375-7383 or send an email to

“The hardest part about transition is that there is no recipe. Every farm is different, so talking to a number of farmers, and particularly good farmers in your own area, even if they’re not organic, is a great idea. Take your time. Start paying attention to the needs of your soil and your animals and then the move to organic is easier.”
Janet Duncan, ON

Excerpts from Gaining Ground

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Praise for Gaining Ground

“Deeply rooted in the practical experience of Canadian farmers and the most up-to-date research, this handbook encourages farmers to consider a transition to organic production without minimizing the difficulties. It is comprehensive and clearly written and organized. It will be immensely helpful, not only to farmers, but to anyone interested in learning more about the realities of organic production in Canada.”
Cathleen Kneen, Editor, BC Organic Grower

“ ‘If I only knew then what I know now.’ This book is what organic farmers know now. Learn from our experience, not your mistakes! The book contains a balance of scientific research and practical farmer knowledge from hands-on experience, both of which will educate and validate organic farming as a viable and credible form of agriculture.”
Steven Snider, President, Going Organic Network, Alberta

“Saskatchewan Organic Directorate receives many inquiries about how to manage farms organically. This book will give farmers the basic knowledge they need to go organic.  Canada is behind in producing the amount of organic food that consumers demand and this book will narrow the widening gap between production and consumption.  The book is also useful for organic farmers, and in fact, for ALL farmers!”
Doug Bone, 1st Vice President, Saskatchewan Organic Directorate

"We applaud COG’s initiative in producing a much needed manual.  As an ever-increasing number of producers are considering organic production as a viable option, every bit of information available is important to help make the transition as smooth as possible."
Alex Scott, President, Organic Producers Association of Manitoba Co-operative

“The strength of this handbook is its reliance on the experience of farmers.  It is an excellent resource for farmers considering or making the transition to organic farming."
Ann Slater, President, Ecological Farmers Association of Ontario

“Another great book. COG has consistently published books with high-quality technical content. Their network contributes a mixture of very hands-on information with the variety of perspectives to cover the extremely diversified farming conditions of Canada.  I recommend it.”
Denis La France, Professor, Organic Farming Program, Cégep de Victoriaville

“This manual is brimming with useful, practical information that will help farmers to manage converting their operation to organic farming. The book is imbued with the wisdom of certified organic farmers who have already gone through the process, and who generously share their knowledge and experience - both positive and negative - in order to help guide newcomers through the sometimes difficult period.”
Beth McMahon, Executive Director, Atlantic Canadian Organic Regional Network

To order, call us toll free at (888) 375-7383, or send an email to or visit the COG Publications page.

Click here or prices and order form.

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