How do I Become an Organic Farmer?

Patrick Roland

Organic fruits and vegetables have gained in popularity over the past few years. If you want to get in on this healthy eating trend and become an organic farmer, there are several skills you should work on. Simply knowing how to farm is not good enough, because you also must know how to get your crops certified as organic. You also need to know what the best crops are for your location and how distribution works.

In the U.S., organic seeds cannot be genetically modified.
In the U.S., organic seeds cannot be genetically modified.

Learning to farm is the first step if you wish to become an organic farmer. There are no educational requirements to raise fruits and vegetables, but many schools offer agricultural classes and clubs. Several major universities also offer degrees in agricultural technologies to help young farmers learn the latest techniques. Another way to learn is by working for a farmer. There are many jobs on a farm, and learning them could take several years, but the experience will help you run your own organic farm.

Soil is integral to organic farming.
Soil is integral to organic farming.

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Knowing what classifies as an organic vegetable or fruit is essential if you want to become an organic farmer. Every country has different standards of what it takes for a piece of produce to be certified as organic, so you should consult your local government agricultural department. In the United States, for example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture limits what pesticides and fertilizers can be used on organic farms.

Organic asparagus.
Organic asparagus.

After you are familiar with the techniques and regulations of organic farming, it is important to do research about which crops grow well in your area. Climate, soil and growing season are all factors that dictate whether an organic crop of herbal plants, vegetables or fruit will survive. Just because lemons grow well in one area doesn't mean that asparagus also will grow well in that area. If you want to become an organic farmer, it is wise to consult local farmers and the government's agricultural office to determine the best crops for growing in your area.

An organic farmer might sell his goods to a health food store.
An organic farmer might sell his goods to a health food store.

After you have begun applying your farming skills to a select crop of organic produce, you must sell it somewhere in order to receive a return on your investment. To become an organic farmer, you should research the distribution channels of fruits and vegetables in your area. Many times, you can sell your goods directly to a supermarket, cooperative market or health food store. Other farmers can strike a deal with a distributor to handle the sale of their goods to retail markets.

Some organic farmers set up stands onsite to sell their vegetables.
Some organic farmers set up stands onsite to sell their vegetables.
Organic farmers should look into their local food co-op as a place to sell their produce.
Organic farmers should look into their local food co-op as a place to sell their produce.
Milk from an organic dairy farm.
Milk from an organic dairy farm.
Farmers who grow organic vegetables often sell their produce to specialty markets and health food stores.
Farmers who grow organic vegetables often sell their produce to specialty markets and health food stores.
Commercial organic farms will need to track their production and financial information to ensure they are profitable.
Commercial organic farms will need to track their production and financial information to ensure they are profitable.
The practice of organic farming limits the use of pesticides.
The practice of organic farming limits the use of pesticides.
In addition to raising crops, organic farmers must design careful strategies for marketing their products.
In addition to raising crops, organic farmers must design careful strategies for marketing their products.
A small organic farm that has just started up should consider selling produce at a local farmer's market.
A small organic farm that has just started up should consider selling produce at a local farmer's market.
Some organic fruits and vegetables come from local, sustainably run farms.
Some organic fruits and vegetables come from local, sustainably run farms.

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