I was walking around the orchard the other day tasting the very first apples of the season–Pristine and Zestar–when I realized something so deep and profound, that I said, “What the heck!” At that very moment, I decided to just take the leap of certifying all my acreage and producing all my crops as organic. I am not quite sure exactly where I’ll start, although I know it’ll begin somewhere between 2 and 3 AM some sleepless night this winter.

Transitioning a long-time, conventionally managed farm to organic is no small task. In fact, I already have in the top drawer of my desk a much easier idea for starting an organic orchard from scratch. Clean land, clean trees, clean beginning. But right now I need to heal Stone Ridge Orchard, and there’s a lot of healing to do. Even though I have committed myself to the most ecological sensitive farming practices I can find, there is so much that’s left to be done.

In this quest for organic, I really want to go beyond. Beyond Organic that is. There are so many things about organic production that do not fit in with my basic farming ethos. And organic will be a marginalized produce category in a few years anyway. And if organic anything destroys demand for local farm produce, then that’s a bad thing. However, if organic is where I have to start, then so be it.

There are many crops that are far easier to grow organically than apples. But apples are such a huge part of me, and I love eating them so much, that I can think of no greater calling than to figure out how to grow them in the most ecologically sensitive manner possible….whatever that may be. There are sure to be many chapters to this saga. And lots of highs and lows. But in the process, we’ll heal the land beyond anything we’ve attempted so far. So, next year, we’ll start fresh.

Join me in the journey and check back often.


About Farmer Mike Biltonen

Mike Biltonen is lifelong farmer with a passion for great tasting, sustainably grown food. He also has an opinion and this blog is his soapbox. But mostly he just likes to farm. Enjoy!
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3 Responses to

  1. Meredith says:

    Congratulations on your decision. Good luck!

  2. Matt says:

    Great thoughts. Great blog. Can almost taste those apples and hear that tractor. Oh, wait. I can.

  3. Good for you! I’ve just started on my way to being a locavore, and I love when farmers take the time to explain how they do what they do (like in your previous post on IPM) and love it even more when I can get local foods that are also organic. oh. and I loooove apples.

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