Starting From Scratch
This was a good place for me to come when I started looking for land. There are a lot of old farms that are abandoned - no fertilizers, no sprays – it’s easy to go organic and not worry about contamination from other sources. ”
• Shelley Roode
Earltown Country Cheeses,NS
Another way to get started is to buy or rent land that hasn’t been organically or intensively farmed. This way, you start with a clean slate – no chemical residues, build-up of pest problems, or reservoir of weed seeds. Hay fields or beef pastures for example, may have had no chemical fertilizers or pesticides applied.
The advantages to choosing a less intensively managed property can include microbiological and earthworm activity, organic matter and a shorter certification transition period (potentially 1 year with adequate records).
Acquiring a different property however is not without risk. You might know the recent history (e.g. no prohibited inputs) however there may be reasons why the property isn’t being farmed (fertility, drainage, pests or exposure to extreme weather). There may also be expected challenges in converting a field to a new use, such as wireworms in converted pastures. Talking to neighbouring farmers, extension specialists and utilizing soil tests can help fill in the blanks and help you make a decision about the potential for organic production on the property.