How We Practice Organic Farming on Our Homestead

organic farmingJust so you know, we aren't militant when it comes to a completely organic lifestyle in our family. We have some allowances here and there. For myself, I like a Big Mac once in a while. There isn't anything organic about a Big Mac. However, we do prescribe to a growing and purchasing philosophy to do our best with healthy food. 

When we shop, we buy pastured-raised beef and pork, both without hormones if we can find it. This is both for the health benefits as well as the ethical treatment of the animals. The poultry, of course, we raise ourselves.

Our vegetables are mostly from local farms, though sometimes choices are non-existent in that department so we have to get plastic-bagged carrots or hothouse tomatoes from California. We are aware of these choices, and do our best to avoid them when we can. The one thing we can control, however, are the organic farming decisions we make for our homestead garden




Due to our garden's size, it isn't that difficult to make solid organic farming choices when it comes down to it. We use good soil with a mix of compost, vermiculite and peat moss. We choose plants that are resistant to pests, eliminating our need for chemical bug killers. If pests do get in, we take a natural approach. For aphids, we encourage ladybugs. Tomato horn worms are easy to pick off and the chicken's love them. For fertilizer (when we use it) we stick to organic fish emulsions or similar products. 

Organic Farming on Our Homestead

organic farmingOur dietary choices are something we are constantly mindful of. Sure, I'll do a Big Mac on occasion. I'm infamously known for my love of Coca-Cola. But aside from little allowances, we're very conscious of our eating habits. I do a good bit of the grocery shopping, and with few exceptions, I don't choose foods that have inordinate amounts chemical fillers or contain any high fructose corn syrup. The kids have learned this lesson as well. We might spend twice as much time grocery shopping as other families, but when remind yourself to scan the fine print on food labels, that time is well spent.

It's the organic farming that really adds a nutritional punch to our diets. We know we are getting clean and healthy foods, without spending a great deal extra on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. The chickens get the same treatment. Their food is a result of organic farming practices, so the eggs aren't filled with anything other than all natural goodness. Our meat is clean, fresh and tasty, unlike anything you can find processed on the grocery store shelves. All in all, it's a good way to live and doesn't take that much more effort to achieve.

Organic Agriculture vs Organic Homesteading

organic agriculture vs organic homesteadingNow, there is a difference between organic agriculture and organic homesteading. On a large scale, organic farming is a labor-intensive and costly process. The store prices of the produce and meats reflect this, and when we buy to supplement our own grown food, it's an easy choice to make. On a cost scale, we might be paying $10-20 a trip more for organic food for a family of six, but it's worth it down to the last penny. Maybe it's a little dramatic, but to spend $10 extra dollars for an opportunity for a longer and healthier life, we think it's worth it.

Organic homesteading is the exact opposite in terms of cost-structure from organic agriculture for us. We aren't sending a portion of our income to Monsanto or other chemical company for the privilege of having generic, blemish-free fruits and veggies. Neither are the organic farms, but their costs are still enormous in comparison. For organic agriculture, they still have to market attractive produce which means careful production and the introduction of suitable fertilizer and organic pesticides. We don't, so it's a check-plus in our column. We save a considerable amount of our budget and still get fresh and healthy food in return. 

Urban Organics

urban organics
All those years ago when we started our investment in this homesteading lifestyle, we had our little city farm plot. We knew even then that the urban organics movement was something to embrace. Food doesn't need to be filled with chemicals. It doesn't need to be aesthetically pleasing. In fact, there's nothing more beautiful than an heirloom tomato with a little color variation and bumps and lumps all across it. Nature has a way of making things work, and growing all natural produce and meats let's the good things shine.

Our foray into urban organics also let us experiment with hardy regional breeds of chickens. It helped us understand disease-resistant strains of veggies. It taught us that picking off a giant horn worm and tossing it to the hens for a snack was a satisfying experience. We learned what we could, and to our great satisfaction each and every day, we still learn.

Organic Farms Near Me

organic farms near me
I'll be honest. Though we enjoy the benefits of several farmer's markets in our region, it takes time and effort to make a shopping trip happen at such a place. We've started looking in to our local food co-op, but when the super market has a decent organic section supplied by local growers, it is infinitely easier to spend our money there with the family schedule we have laid out. 

Wendie and I can pick up the kids after school and popover to the local store for groceries. The produce and meats are great quality, and it's a good feeling to support the organic farms near me. Our supermarket is good about sharing the source of their produce and meats to better inform us. Sure, there's a middle man in the guise of a supermarket chain making a buck in the middle, but we still feel a connection to where the food we don't grow comes from.

We love sharing our homesteading lives with you all, and would love to hear your organic farming stories and opinions. How do you feel about buying organics at a grocery store? Do you allow yourself a Big Mac once in a while? Let us know by joining the conversation below!

Comments

I'm new to homesteading, but my goal is to grow produce "organically" - the quotes mean I'm not going for the official certification or paperwork, but that *I* know I am doing it that way, and those whom I may sell to in the region will have reasonable assurance that I keep my word on it. I'm afraid the chickens aren't organic - they have eaten non-organic feed (although they usually get organic), and they eat kitchen scraps of whatever provender. I do buy produce, especially winter, in the supermarket, and while I try to avoid The Dirty Dozen, and I do avoid HFCS and such -- I don't necessarily look at organic status. I do think my chickens/eggs are raised better than supermarket organic varieties. Right now, they can't forage... about 8 inches of snow out there! At any rate, no I don't eat McDonalds, but that's because I grew up on Mom and Dad's hamburgers which always tasted a 100% better, not necessarily on any principle. Okay, my fast food weakness is... pizza, on the road. I just limit the slices and times...
Forgot to mention, I have two stand alone freezers.... half a lamb, half a pig, and a quarter of a cow (what remains) purchased from meat shares at local farmers. My goal is to raise lamb and goat for meat, perhaps in a year or two. (My main aspiration is goats... hence my name...)
WT said…
Sounds like you are cut from the same cloth as we are:) There is a practicality to living this way, balancing bot the healthy aspects of our food, the ethics of raising animals and of course, tasing a family.

I will admit though, that once every couple of months I find myself in the fast food drive through, but by no means is it for reasons other than I'm starving and a fish sandwich is probably not going to kill me.

We currently have one deep freezer we keep in the solar battery room, and the goal is to do a better job of managing it. Luckily we eat from it regularly, but haven't stepped up our game to rotate what's there to have some more organization. We have some different cuts of pork from my brother's spread, and of course a good selection still from our meat birds last October.

Cheers, and glad to have you swing by:)
Thanks, yes similar goals and eatings… yes, I can do their fast food fish sandwich! I raised seven chicken last summer for the freezer (first time, so I wanted to limit the number), and tonight it is rooster legs in wine and sage sauce.

Solar batteries... cool. I got solar but I'm connected to the grid (rebate and all). When I put up the barn it will be solar powered with batteries.
WT said…
We are looking at adding at least two more outbuilding- a goat barn and a writing she-shed. Both will be on independent solar-
Cheers!