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Converting to Organic

As shown earlier, conventional farming is harmful to our personal health as well as the environment.

Fortunately, as organics have become more mainstream, more farmers are learning about the environmental and economic impact of their conventional methods.

Conversion takes time

Unfortunately, even when a farm decides to convert to organic, the transition isn't simple or instantaneous. It varies slightly depending on the certification agency, but typically farms must:
  • learn new farming methods and processes.
  • farm organically on the previously conventional soil for at least 3 years (aka transition period).
  • have periodic, comprehensive inspections from third-party agencies.
  • register with applicable county, state, or national offices.
  • submit fees.


After a farm has been certified organic, it has ongoing inspections from a third party to ensure their land and produce continues to meet organic standards.

Interim alternatives

Because of the care and cost involved in switching to organics, some conscientious farmers (especially small, family farms) don't feel ready to switch completely, but do try to limit their use of chemicals and pesticides.

Organic farming is the safest alternative for our health and environment, but some conventional farms are on the right track by choosing:
  • California Clean: Do use chemical pesticides, but don't allow those that contain probable/possible carcinogens or reproductive toxins. Use ecological approaches to encourage natural soil-building and healthy habitats. Favor small, family farms up to 100 acres vs large farms that are controlled by offsite managers.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): Use natural pest controls whenever possible, and only as a last resort will allow chemical pesticides in the least harmful doses/applications.
  • "No spraying" / "No pesticides": Don't use conventional pesticides, but do use conventional fertilizers. (Note: There is no certification for these claims. Check with each farm for more information.)
  • Vine-ripened / Tree-ripened: Produce is ripened on the vine or tree before picking, as opposed to being picked green and chemically ripened at their destination. (More...)

Farm-to-farm mentoring

Farms interested in converting to organic shouldn't feel daunted or alone! There are many farm resources to learn about the process, and CCOF has a mentoring program where conventional farmers work with organic farmers who have gone through the conversion themselves.
More about:
Misconceptions
Local Certifications
Benefits of Organics