ISSUED: 3 April 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Agricultural Innovation Center at Tabler Farm is now certified organic by the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. The certification covers eight acres where vegetables are produced, including the greenhouse and the field surrounding it.
“This means is our products will not have any of the noncertified insecticide and pesticide residue and that we follow national organic protocols,” said Dr. Peter Vila, associate professor of environmental and physical sciences and director, Veterans to Agriculture program. “We don’t use any of the chemical fertilizers. We can use insecticides, but they have to be USDA approved. It gives a level of certification to the materials that we are using and products we are producing.”
Vila said the certification process involved documenting all methods used at the farm. Haroun Hallack, farm manager, kept track of where seeds were purchased and when everything was planted and harvested. Anything used such as soil, fertilizer, aphids, and insecticide had to be documented as certified USDA-approved organic. Materials along with documentation had to be sent to the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association and a representative did a site visit to verify everything.
Vila said the organic certification is beneficial for marketing products that are grown on the farm and provides a great learning experience for students.
“Organic farming requires knowledge of biology and agriculture ecology to know when to apply products to be most efficacious,” Vila said. “If you’re learning how to farm it’s good to document what you’re doing, when you’re doing it, and how you’re doing it because that helps you in the long term know the impact on the product. Having documentation makes it easy to try something different later, or do something again if it was effective.”
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