Organic Knowledge Spans Generations

Farmers today have a lot of resources to help them navigate the challenges of raising healthy crops and livestock.

Land grant universities, the Cooperative Extension Service, and federal agencies offer a wealth of technical information regarding everything from the depth of planting seeds to the optimal time to cut their alfalfa.

As I sat at a kitchen table with an English organic dairy farmer last month, I was reminded that organic producers have another resource as well.

I was sharing a cup of coffee with Adam Philham and his family. Although still a young farmer, Adam was one of the pioneers in organic agriculture in his corner of Southwest England. He took the leap of faith in 1998 and converted his dairy herd to certified organic status.

I asked Adam where he turned to develop the knowledge needed to successfully incorporate organic practices. Adam thought for a moment, then answered, “Well, I asked my grandfather a lot of questions. After all, that’s the way they farmed before all these chemicals came along.”

The university extension service provides a lot of valuable information for farmers these days. It’s nice to know that the Extended Family Service still can play an important role.

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