Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How Does Your Garden Grow?

As I mentioned yesterday, I have decided to challenge myself to eat a vegetarian diet for the next week or so... and I have been cooking some lovely meals as a result. Last night I made some Pumpkin, Spinach & Ricotta Pasta... and when the recipe prompted me to stir in 1/2 a cup of Parsley I was overjoyed that I got to run out to my herb garden and pick some fresh leaves off! It reminded me of some research I had done a while back on the importance of organic farming and home growing. So I'll share some of that knowledge now.

*This is a fairly lengthy post... only read on if you are interested. There is an information sheet on Growing Urban Veggies that I made at the end!*

What Is Organic Farming?

Organic Farming is the form of agriculture where produce is grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, artificial fertilisers, plant growth regulators, livestock antibiotics, food additives or genetically modified organisms.  Instead the method relies heavily upon crop rotation, green manure, compost, manual cultivation, biological pest control and organically approved pesticides application to maintain soil productivity and control pests.

“Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved…” – International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements.

What Are The Benefits?

Agriculture in general imposes external costs to society through pesticides, nutrient run off and water usage. But Organic Farming:

  • aims to use less energy and produce less waste in terms of packaging etc.
  • avoids the use of synthetic compound fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives, resulting in benefits to both human health and the environment.
  • advocates the use of localised resources such as plant and animal waste.
  • maintains the genetic diversity of the agricultural system, as well as plant and wildlife surroundings.  
  • considers the social impacts of agriculture, including the retention of the family farm, supporting the local economy and producing fair trade produce.
  • meets the consumer demand for food products that are both nutritious and free of chemicals.

How Do I Know If The Product Is Organic?

There are about 2100 certified organic producers in Australia, farming approximately 10.5 million hectares at current.

Certified organic products are required to display both the name and address of the certified operator, and the approved certifying organisation’s name, address and logo.

"100% Organic" - must have all of their ingredients, with the exception of salt and water, derived from organic methods. 

"Organic"  - 95% of ingredients, with the exception of salt and water, must be derived from organic methods.

"Made with Organic Ingredients" - 70% of ingredients, with the exception of salt and water, must be derived from organic methods. 

Any product that contains less than 70% organic ingredients cannot use the term organic on the principle display panel.

What Can I Do?

People can aid the success of organic farming by simply buying at places that sell organic produce. Since 52% of organic farmers sell their produce to wholesalers it really isn't that hard! There is a fruit market out where I live that prides itself on selling organic products. Above each fruit or veg is a label indicating which of the local farms the produce has come from. Supporting local growers is also good for the local economy as well as the environment. So if you are ever driving past one of those road stalls and they are selling a bucket of tomatoes, and you need tomatoes, stop off and pick some up. I can guarantee they taste a zillion times better than the stuff you get from the general grocery store.

It is also beneficial to grow veggies in your own garden. I'll admit, with all the space I have here I should be growing so much more than my little old herb garden (don't worry it's on my list). I understand that not everyone lives on garden friendly property, and so I have made a little step-by-step guide on "Growing Urban Vegetables".

If you have a garden already, what are you growing?


  1. What a great idea!!
    I may start growing veggies in my garden next spring!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Love this! Thank you for the posting. I am needing to expand my window garden horizons beyond rosemary.

  3. Fun! I love that the world is catching onto how versatile herbs can be. Pretty and utilitarian! My basil plant is getting super big...can't wait to throw it in a pasta salad!


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