Saturday, August 28, 2010

Another deadline - organic certification

The organic inspector will be here Monday afternoon.  I need to do a lot of neatening up of my paperwork prior to her visit.  We talked on the phone at length, and she sounds pretty sharp, willing to teach where I need some guidance.  That is good.

Tomorrow is cleanup time.  I have been stacking paperwork on my dining room table, not just organic certification stuff, but two months of credit card charges and a bunch of filing for things other than organic certification.  It all needs to be done.  I have found out one thing, with my crunch schedule this year - the most efficient way to do this sort of things is to do a full month at a time.  I used to do it at least once a week, sometimes as soon as I came home with the charge slip in my purse, or as soon as I finished the on-line order for organic greenhouse seeds and supplies.  But that was a luxury I didn't really have this year, and so I found myself entering a whole month's worth of items after I got my credit card bill.

Who knew?  It is really more efficient this way.  I do keep the credit slips clipped together, sorted into piles by billing period, and by credit card company.  Then when I get the bill, I make sure I have a slip for each charge.  No sense in putting it into the computer and then finding out when I get the bill that I put it on the wrong card, or some other such mistake.

It does require making notes on the charge slip, since it might be a month before I am entering it into my accounts.  But that is a small effort, and takes seconds while I am standing in the checkout line.

This mess on my dining room table will be cleaned up by tomorrow night.  No Sunday nap this week.  Then I will be sure that I have all of the stuff for the inspector put together into a binder.  It does make a difference.  The easier it is for them to get at information, the less apt they are to start digging.  It is not that I have anything to hide.  I just do not want to go on a treasure hunt.  So the pile for organic stuff must be at least minimally organized by Sunday night, and then I have until 2 p.m. on Monday until she arrives to pretty it up.  I am sure I will be ready, but I am also sure that I won't have too many minutes to spare before she arrives!

Yup, that's the stuff that has to be in order for the inspection.  And of course, paperwork is just half of it.  Androo did a great job of cleaning out the area of the barn where the chicks are residing, and Allen will spend the morning with the weed whip cleaning up here and there in the calf pens and paddocks. 

I'm glad this only happens once a year.  Lots of stress.  But Monday night, it will be over, and hopefully I will not have too long a list of things to correct.  Then I can heave a sigh of relief and put it out of my mind until the process starts all over next spring.

Organic certification is important.  It means consistency from farm to farm.  It clarifies just exactly what "organic" means.  I do admit I resent it when I hear a farmer say, "I'm not certified, but I am same as organic."  My first question is, "Have you downloaded and read the organic standards?"  I know the answer to that will be no.  Next question is, "Then how do you know you are same as organic?"  I am always surprised by the little things I have missed.  And some big ones!  I did not know that potting soil, if not labeled ORGANIC, has a wetting agent that is a petroleum product.  Now I do, and of course, I use the proper soil in my greenhouse.  But until I read through the requirements, I wasn't aware of that.

I will say this - if you suffer from insomnia, you might want to download them and read them at bedtime!  It's about 50 pages of small print, and unbelievably detailed.  But those rules mean that you can rest assured that you are getting some pretty good food when it is labeled "Certified Organic."

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